No Jackets

this calls for some tuneskies

Felix Riebl – Into the Rain

Here at No Jackets, we’re pretty big fans of The Cat Empire. After first learning that Felix himself was an alumnus of our school, we took an instant fascination with them. Between us, we have seen them 14 times and have never experienced a bad performance. Some of their songs have become regular in our social playlists, in particular The Wine Song. This is regularly followed later in the evening by The (A Little Too Much) Wine Song. Which is the exact same song, but is played after having drunk copious amounts of whatever cheap liquor we have acquired for the evening.

Felix Riebl has always been my preferred vocalist in the band, which made me incredibly anxious to get a hold of his solo album. Despite having heard a few demos from around the web, it was really hard to predict what was to come. Despite my love for him, I do not think Felix is a particularly impressive singer, but it was rather his control and influence over the band that made me prefer him to Harry Angus. With horns blaring and the jazz drums tapping away, it was easy to miss Felix’s faults and focus on his dance moves and rhythm.

Into the Rain is completely stripped of the flashiness. It is mostly Felix accompanied by a combination of acoustic guitar, piano and drum kit, and while it is a pleasant listen, one can’t help but crave a trumpet solo or even some skat singing. You get the feeling that Felix just isn’t a solo artist. Bones is one of the more captivating tracks on the album, but more because it has a degree of progression, where some other tracks remain increasingly similar even after a few listens. The emotional composition that leads to the climax in I Won’t Know You Anymore shows Felix’s vast musicianship, and uses his Greek ancestry as inspiration for Helen, a song loosely based on Helen of Troy. He does manage a soulful cover of Bruce Springsteen’s I’m on Fire without disgracing it.

There can be a lot of anxiety over a solo album. If it’s successful, it might spell the end for the main band and with their rumoured break-up a few years ago, The Cat Empire have a history of difficulty. Felix has described Into the Rain as a break-up album, which explains a lot of the emotion that is present in almost all tracks. It is a beautiful listen but I am slightly grateful that it will not threaten The Cat Empire’s success.

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3 responses to “Felix Riebl – Into the Rain

  1. fisheswilllaugh July 19, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Fair play to you for this review Callum, I know it’s hard to admit to yourself, when you want something you think you’re going to love to be great, and it doesn’t quite work out that way.

    Having said that, I really feel this album’s a grower. I’ve had it on in the car for the last few days, driving to and from work in the rain, in this lovely summertime over here in England, and I have to say I think the atmosphere of the album is really quite stunning. And the lyrics too are intelligent, using lots of imagery, with more depth of feeling than you’d get on your average Cat Empire record (of whom I am also a massive fan, don’t get me wrong).

    By the time the album got to Track 5 on my first listen, “I Won’t Know You Anymore”, I knew it was something special. It opens quiet and fragile, and builds and builds to something that sounds like moody atmospheric U2, or Bob Dylan on ‘Time Out Of Mind’, it’s so atmospheric. “Bones” starts off Side 2 I guess, in old money, and I really think this is an album that’s been planned as a proper album like that, with two sides, and a definite journey. The three song suite of “Helen”, “I’m On Fire” (which I kind of wish had been kept as just the end of “Helen”, rather than as a separate track, as the click in between is annoying when I listen on my iPod, and “They Don’t Know You” works beautifully, and the last of these in particular, Felix sounds so broken and fragile, it’s really emotive, personal stuff, almost uncomfortable listening at times, like Springsteen on ‘Nebraska’, or Jeff Tweedy of Wilco singing “Please Be Patient With Me”.

    The final song brings a more uplifting mood, it is a moving on song, embracing the catharsis of all the released emotions through the album, learning from it, and growing from it. I look forward to further listens of this.

  2. Callum July 21, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Thanks mate. One of the more interesting comments we’ve had.
    The album does continue to grow one me. Actually read back now, I think you can tell it was growing on me as I was writing.

  3. steph July 27, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    I completely agree with your opinion that Felix is not an overly impressive singer, but I think his voice is perfect for this album. And as mentioned above, an absolute grower. Don’t Fall Under and I Won’t Know You Anymore are my favourites so far. Beautiful album- atmosphere, arrangements, lyrics, all of it.

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