The Features play sturdy, charismatic rock, which is why they never should have been on a major label. Yet in 2004, the Nashville quartet dropped their excellent debut album, Exhibit A, on Universal. Despite strong reviews and attention-grabbing tours with the Walkmen and Kings of Leon, is it such a surprise the Features got dropped just before recording a follow-up? Bands this classically pitched don’t belong on major labels these days—something the Features learned the hard way.
Which brings us to this conscious reboot. The album’s title and the fact that it’s self-released (with national distribution from Red Eye) make it obvious the Universal experience left the band stinging. But thankfully, Some Kind of Salvation is a fresh-faced return to form, complete with the kind of tight mechanics, diverse stylistic detours and invigorating choruses heard on Exhibit A. Between leader Matthew Pelham, keyboardist Mark Bond, and the rhythm section of bassist Roger Dabbs and drummer Rollum Haas, there’s a lot of pent-up energy released here.
Simple yet satisfying, the Features often display a Spoon-worthy economy and cool, and Pelham’s vocals are as likely as Britt Daniel’s to slip from a ranging howl to a delicate falsetto. Also like Spoon, these guys have numerous tricks up their sleeves, from the punchy horns of “The Drawing Board” and danceable snap of “GMF” to the soul burn of “Wooden Heart” and the plinking percussion of “Concrete,” which Pelham opens with the declaration, “I am the king of indecision.”
Paced well and spring-loaded with memorable tunes, Some Kind of Salvation rewards everyone who hoped Exhibit A wasn’t a brilliant fluke. By the time the Features hit the rousing and emotional closing number, “All I Ask,” their catharsis is as complete as our satisfaction.