1984, Music

The Splendour of Fear (1984) by Felt

The first track made me think I was listening to some kind of proto math rock thing, only coming at it from a different direction. That idea disappears pretty early into the second track, but the thought was interesting.

This is often instrumental music that finds some kind of space between jangle pop and dream pop, though hardly that dreamy, which shouldn’t be shocking given the year it came out. Though it recalls several other bands, it is unique enough for me to pay attention.

The songs are pretty catchy whether or not there are vocals, though I definitely have a high tolerance for instrumental guitar music and I might be willing to grant something like this a little more in the way of leeway when it comes to melodies.

The aesthetic feels key here and so I can’t say I paid a ton of attention to the lyrics when they show up. They are delivered in a very “post punk voice” kind of way and, actually, I think the vocals kind of undermine what they’re doing. They sound more like other bands when he’s singing, regardless of what he is singing about.

The mix isn’t super amazing – the drums don’t sound too good but are further up than the bass, which would probably sound fine if I could hear it better. Sometimes the lead guitar drowns out the rhythm guitar. If I think about the production too hard, I start struggling with the record. I hope there was a budget problem or something but I suspect this was a deliberate artistic decision. Ah well.

Anyway, putting aside the production and the unnecessary vocals, I generally quite enjoy this and how it manages to find its own unique place.


All words by Lawrence. All music by Lawrence and Maurice Deebank, except where noted.

  1. “Red Indians” 1:57
  2. “The World is as Soft as Lace” 4:19
  3. “The Optimist and the Poet” (Lawrence) 7:54
  4. “Mexican Bandits” 3:51
  5. “The Stagnant Pool” 8:29
  6. “A Preacher in New England” (Deebank) 4:18
  • Lawrence – rhythm guitar (tracks 1, 2, 3, and 5), vocals (tracks 2 and 5), lead guitar (track 5)
  • Maurice Deebank – lead guitar
  • Mick Lloyd – bass guitar (tracks 1-5)
  • Gary Ainge – drums (tracks 1-5)

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