Twelve Stops and Home, by The Feeling
Suggested by Jayne Louise
What’s your comfort food?
Me, I like chips. That’s UK chips, not US chips, although crisps are delicious too. Chips. Chunky potato batons, deep fried. Chips from a chippie, wrapped in paper, greasy squeak, no scraps. I love a bit of stodge, carb-loading for no other reason than it tastes good. I’m a touch weird as I prefer my chips to be slightly oily and soft rather than crispy, and I almost drown them in vinegar and pepper, with a dusting of salt. The Northerner in me respects your gravies and especially your curry sauces, but you simply can’t top the classic basics of a chip butty, heavy butter, on a decent sliced white.
Your comfort food may be something sweet, like chocolate. It may be something home-cooked, evoking fond memories of happy times. It may be something bat-sh*t weird, like toothpaste on Ryvita. If it is, then all power to you, you minty-fresh legend.
A cornerstones of comfort food is that it won’t necessarily be the most sensible dietary choice. It’ll be something high fat, packed with sugar, or committing a host of similar nutritional sins. Be prepared, because it’ll likely be a choice of foodstuff that you’ll have to defend.
The Feeling are a power-pop outfit hailing from Horsham in Sussex. Twelve Stops and Home is their debut album, released in 2006, which contains three of their four Top Ten singles to date. As an album, it’s packed with delightful melodious chart-friendly songs, crafted and enticing, pleasantly fresh and ultimately filling. It’s also, in a very real sense, the musical equivalent of a comfort food.
Musically, the album is a welcoming sound, laced with gentle yet exultant songs, eliciting vibes of Jellyfish, or even the Beatles or Beach Boys. This is exalted company to be in, no doubt, but the comparison is fair. Every facet of every song oozes charm, from the layered Californian-style vocal harmonies to the somewhat affected regional twang in the lead singer’s delivery, from the measured guitar-and-piano backbone to the individual intricacies on each separate track.
Let’s look at the three best singles on here: Sewn, Fill My Little World, and Never Be Lonely. Of the singles, I had recognition for Fill My Little World, despite not actively remembering the band going in. While each of them has merit, it’s this which picks up the mantle of standout song, with its genteel flow and saccharine build in the chorus.
And its here where the album’s weakness lies. Like roly poly, or spotted dick, this particular comfort food-stroke-album is almost too sweet, almost too basic and bland. While the simplicity is warming in a sense, it also gives me pause, knowing that the quality I’m lauding is also stretching my credulity to the point where, as with my chips, I feel I need to justify an illicit devotion. There’s also a hint of manufacture, or Robbie Williams and Take That, a paddle-knife buttering of Gary Barlow Beige across the crusty cob on offer.
I did like this. I did. But, like the best comfort food, it should be saved for times of great malaise, and not eaten at each and every meal. I award Twelve Stops and Home a worthy 7/10, and I’m sure to return for a clandestine bite or two in the future.