You probably know Simon Berkfinger by another name: one-half of the perennial party-starters Philadelphia Grand Jury. Yeah, remember those guys? Well, Berkfinger is back on the Australian music scene with this, frankly fucking fantastic new record under the name Feelings. Its got all the groove and upbeat nature of Philly Jay’s collection of songs, but this time round, the sound is fuller, more expansive, and a little more realised than ‘Hope Is For Hopers’. This time round, its not all party, party, party, and there’s some injection of the bitter actuality of reality and love in there. Its this sense of bipolar between the happy and cynical that shows that Feelings is a project that is going to outlast the ‘ehrmerhgerd pherlerdphier grend jere’ hype, and ensure that Simon Berkfinger is going to get the praise as a musician that he deserves.
Opener ‘Square’ brings the funk strong and fast, like having George Clinton’s multi-coloured dreads slapping you in the face. But there’s also a little bit of Franz Ferdinand in there, a pop-rock atmosphere that has the opposite effect of what pop-rock usually does to a human being (namely, to simultaneously shit yourself and throw up). This kind of pop style, an upbeat, super cool, shiny sound is continued sporadically through the album to great effect. ‘New York Summer’ comes off like a refreshing sip of Sprite right before you and your buddy kill a roomful of amateurs that fucked over your boss (props to those that got the Pulp Fiction reference). And ‘Good Juju in My Medicine’ brings the Regurgitator vibes, with the spaceship drum machine and sullen vocals that can’t help but make you want to dance.
However, as explained before, its not all good times, intercourse and metaphors for shitloads of drugs. ‘City Hall’ disguises a morbid topic of being totally manipulated and unrewarded by love, under a solemn ‘woooo’ and catchy chorus. And closer ‘Bring On the Night’ brings a single tear to the eye as Berkfinger gets in touch with his inner emotions. The keys that sound like Pacman dying, and death-march drums only enhance the lonely pain that’s being felt in this song, and as a song, its a standout on the album.
The realism that Berkfinger brings to his already established super-happy-fun-times-party-on-Wayne-party-on-Garth means that Feelings becomes more than the usual self-indulgent solo-project. Instead, Berkfinger shows that he can diversify himself, make music that incorporates a whole shitload of elements and themes, and prove that he’s going to stick around for longer than that ‘Casino’ track will.
‘Be Kind, Unwind’ is out now through Create/Control, and its better than that Jack Black/Mos Def movie that it almost shares the same name with. In awesome news, Feelings are playing The Standard on the 7th of December….with Philadelphia Grand Jury! That’s right, Berkfinger’s old band is coming back for a tour to play all the golden oldies. The Creases, a fucking great band in their own right, are also going to be along for the ride. So basically, you need to be at this show.