At the precise moment Feral Children launches into “On A Frozen Beach”, the fifth track off their sophomore release Brand New Blood, the ferocious percussion kicks into gear. There’s a key element here: the percussion is lent by front-man and standing percussionist Jeff Keenan as well as a second drummer on the trap set. First hearing the song, I noted that it sounded as though the wild, feral side of the band had been contained to a degree. And that concept is fully realized in Brand New Blood.
As in the taming of any beast, the wild side will inevitably remain. “Kid Origami” is a prime example; the song is reserved, yet the band slips in a shout in the background on occasion. “Group Home” begins with a Feral Children signature – Keenan gives his big drum a patterned series of rim shots. In itself, it’s one of those things you’re taught not to do in school outside an infrequent accent in jazz. You’ll find traces of this same disrespect to the norm throughout Brand New Blood. It’s the lifeforce of Feral Children, this breaking of rules. And there’s no question it remains. Just listen to closing track “Enchanted Parkway”, perhaps the most cherished track on the album.
“Rivers Of Forever”, on the other hand, is just as minimal in terms of volume as “Kid Origami”, and like that tune, the band adds in its own version of insanity – a saxophone squeals like Bill Pullman in Lost Highway subtly in the background. Throughout Brand New Blood, Feral Children finds a unique balance between calm melodies and wild hysterics. The tranquility of “Universe Design” comes immediately after the tempestuous “Conveyor”. They sing Brand new blood / Is everywhere in “Inside The Night” and with harmony vocals it sounds like the tranquility after a fresh kill.
All of this, everything – it points to one simple fact. Feral Children has always been a band unrestrained. It has allowed them to shine where others would merely crumble or die. Survival of the fittest. In Brand New Blood, Feral Children is integrating into society. The beast is becoming domesticated, but that wild side is far from gone.
Pick up a copy of Brand New Blood from Amazon.
Sarathan Records [CD, 2010]
1. Kid Origami
3. Group Home
4. Rivers Of Forever
5. On A Frozen Beach
7. Universe Design
8. Inside The Night
9. Woodland Mutts
10. Enchanted Parkway