Review Revue: Felt – Ignite the Seven Cannons


Felt were a band from Birmingham, England. They existed for 10 years (more or less the 1980s), and put out 10 albums and 10 singles (that has to have been on purpose, right?). The singer of the band went by the name Lawrence (a much humbler-sounding mononym than, say, Prince or Madonna or Cher, don’t you think?). According to the Internet, they were named after the way Tom Verlaine sings the word “Felt” in the song “Venus,” by Television. Even if that’s not true, it’s a great band name origin story. Listening to Lawrence’s vocals, though, I can believe it.

Ignite the Seven Cannons was Felt’s fourth album. It was produced by Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins, and contained guest vocals by his bandmate Liz Fraser, which must have been a bit of a mixed blessing. I mean, her voice is gorgeous and immediately grabs you, but at the same time, it’s going to become the focus of any song she’s on, and of course the songs on the album that don’t feature her are going to suffer (see the comments below, if you don’t believe me). “Primitive Painters,” which features Ms. Fraser’s wonderful vocal stylings prominently, went on to become the band’s most successful single. Here’s hoping their every live show after this album wasn”t filled with people hollering “Primitive Painters! Primitive Painters!” — and then, once the song was played, being disappointed because of course Liz Fraser wasn’t there to sing it, and without here it just wasn’t the song they remembered.

But! Felt are a very well regarded band in their own right, with or without Guthrie and Fraser. We would all do well to dig into their catalog and see what we’ve been missing.

“So so slick, but still really good. P.S. Stay away from Primitive Painters if you can.”

“Why? It’s good.”

“It was overplayed because Liz sang on it.”

[Giant lipstick kiss mark.]

“Stephie, you’re a strange girl.”

“Well, bought this, listened to it a dozen times. Doesn’t do a thing for me. ‘Primitive Painters’ is the only song that I like.”

“Sounds a bit homogenous to me…”

“You know, I find this a trifle pretentious.”

“I like ‘primitive painters,’ too.”

“‘Primitive Painters’ — Awesome.”

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One Comment

  1. Andrew Boe
    Posted March 8, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Felt is one of the very best bands of the era. It is a severe discredit to the group to focus on Fraser and the song, Primitive Painters.

    Their records are timeless, overlooked masterpieces.

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