One of The Feeling’s many admirable qualities has been their refusal to chase credibility or the approval of pop critics. From the moment they launched their surprise takeover of 2006’s radio stations, they have been shameless – in the best possible sense – in their desire to reach as many people as possible with their glossy, ebullient pop songs. Unfortunately, that same shamelessness has led to many dismissing them as irony merchants or chart chancers.
What makes this irritating is that it does The Feeling such a disservice, given how tender-hearted and utterly uncynical the band truly are, as revealed on this singles collection. From the lilting, lovelorn Sewn onwards, main-man Dan Gillespie Sells has been a songwriter of rare warmth and heart, whether crafting a tender anthem for the bullied and marginalised on Strange or exposing his own vulnerabilities on the breezy yet broken-hearted Never Be Lonely. No other pop singer has been as preoccupied with 21st century loneliness, returning to the theme in spangly glam-pop like Love It When You Call or elegiac, string-soaked ballads like Without You.
Of course, what ultimately made The Feeling connect with a vast and varied audience was their seemingly effortless knack for a pop hook. The run of singles captured on this collection’s first eight songs is thrilling in its sing-along jubilance. Fill My Little World remains one of the last decade’s most perfect pop singles, shifting brilliantly from minor key heartbreak to air-punching defiance, though it’s nearly matched by the buzzing, dizzying I Thought It Was Over, which captures the deliriums of love and lust as well as anything by Kylie Minogue.
Unfortunately, the collection’s latter tracks show undeniable evidence of the quality control stuttering in later years. Turn It Up, in particular, is as kitschy and irksomely upbeat as the band’s detractors always said the band were, although Set My World on Fire is winningly heartfelt, and a new, more understated version of Rosé makes the original’s melody even more silky and seductive.
Perhaps this collection will prove more successful than recent chart positions would suggest, giving The Feeling the confidence to launch a fresh assault on the nation’s airwaves. God knows our charts could do with an injection of luscious, sincere and perfectly crafted pop songs. If not, it’s a flawed but often gorgeous testament to a band who - for a while - made mainstream pop a much better and more joyous place.
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