Any band that can rhyme Saint Francis of Assisi with fans of AC/DC is alright in my book. Lyrically, after their take on the state of the world in 2019’s swaggering ‘Undress’, The Felice Brothers' targets for their acerbic wit and observation are rich and varied on 'From Dreams To Dust'. Stories of escape, treatises on Artificial Intelligence, corporate greed, memories real or imagined, ecology, celebrity, and much more.
Musically the band continues with their melodic, ramshackle, blissful delivery of songs that threaten to fall apart, but ultimately soar from the speakers in a hugely engaging manner. Beginnings and endings provide a framework to hang the songs on. Opener ‘Jazz On The Autobahn’ is a glorious case in point.
Set to a driving musical backdrop complete with an ongoing trumpet solo, it’s two different perspectives of an impending apocalypse from the eyes of a sheriff and an oil heiress – all in 4 minutes 32 seconds. Life is never dull in Felice Brothers land.
She said this is what the apocalypse will look like, a tornado with human eyes, poisoned birdbath, and torrents of chemical rain, like the heads of state hyperventilating in clouds of methane, sundown on the human heart. This is what the apocalypse will sound like, but it’ll be loud as a mushroom cloud. It’ll sound like final jeopardy, but somehow be ghostly like a glockenspiel, like the tasting of bombs, or the tapping of stiletto heels. It’ll sound like jazz on the Autobahn.
‘To-Do List’ does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a fun inventory of deeds to do, whether mundane or profound. It’s destined to join the growing list of live favorites, to sit alongside previous crowd-pleasers.
Quieter moments of reflection and observation such as the respectful eulogy ‘Be At Rest’ is a condensation of life and a voyage of an individual’s journey from dreams to dust.
With the vocals varying between spoken – not quite rap – and full-on delivery, the album is full of wit and wisdom, quirkiness, clever wordplay, and superb musicianship. The good ship Felice continues to sail through uncharted lyrical terrain, steered by brothers Ian and James. It’s clear the band is having a ball. Yet it bears closer inspection, the lyrics repay closer scrutiny. Far from rose-tinted, the brothers skewed view of events makes for a hugely satisfying and thoughtful album.
As hugely enjoyable as the band is on record, it’s in that live setting that they really come alive. With a European tour penciled in for next summer, these are gigs to put on your to-do list.