Lonely Robot – Feelings Are Good Review

Weathering the never-ending beat-down of 2020, at some point you realize you just need a break. I opted to take a breather from writing reviews this month—and I put down my 3D work and drastically limited my time on social media for the month as well—since I finally recognized that extended burnout which I refused to acknowledge for years. To further recuperate, I decided to dive into other genres of music that I rarely explore. But when I saw Lonely Robot hit our promo sump I couldn’t resist. A band name that adorable will always find a home in my heart, even if I never heard the music before. Feelings Are Good is Lonely Robot‘s fourth record, but how good do I feel after spinning it for two weeks?

On initial listen, I swooned six ways from Sunday for Feelings Are Good, like nothing else to date writing for Angry Metal Guy. I don’t know if brainchild John Mitchell is responsible for all the performances in these near-sixty-minutes of music (including alternate versions of two songs on the album proper), but everything Lonely Robot offers on this record makes me smile ear-to-ear. Swooshing synths and twinkling keys form stylistic personality, with 80’s-influenced pop-prog (think Peter Gabriel meets Avandra) composing the skeletal structure and a boisterous bass and kit contributing muscle. Emotional and often breathy vocals add further depth, and when all elements combine they concoct an entertaining, yet often heartbreaking record.

If there is one thing I can say without a shadow of a doubt, it’s this: “Crystalline” can make me cry. That’s hard to do! Sarah McLachlan and Riverside—in recent times—are the only other artists with songs that evoke such water-shedding reactions, but “Crystalline” gets the nod sob for its beauty, its softness and delicate heart. But then you have songs like “Into the Lo-Fi” and “Armour for my Heart” that bounce and bubble with playful zest, and I find them both hard to resist thanks to impeccable choruses. Lonely Robot also expresses his angry side, with “Spiders” and “Army of One” (my personal favorite) delivering an intensity that, while demonstrated not with extreme guitar tones or blasts of any kind, feels threatening. In most cuts hooks abound, but “Suburbia” represents the most well-rounded song, balancing compelling lyrics and addicting bass lines upon songwriting unfettered by pretension or arrogance. The music here is pure, honest fare that anybody could fall in love with.

That being said, the record isn’t without flaws. “Keeping People as Pets” is a cool song, energetic and replete with affecting lead guitar work behind the chorus, but it lacks the same memorability as the choice cuts. Short, minimalist tracks “Feelings Are Good” and “Grief Is the Price of Love” bookend the album, and while I think they are nice little ditties, I sometimes wonder if they both need to be there. One spin to the next, I fluctuate between wanting to excise the opener or the closer, but the core reaction is always that the record benefits from the presence of one, not both. Feelings Are Good runs for a satisfying length of time, with good pacing to boot. Nevertheless, “The Silent Life” and “Life Is a Sine Wave” both require one minute’s worth of trimming to maximize their contribution to the whole. As they are, my eyes wander to the timestamp about three-quarters in with each, just to make sure I’m getting close to the next track.

If I had to describe Lonely Robot‘s Feelings Are Good in a single word, the immediate response is “relief.” That comes in three flavors: relief that what I sampled is very good, despite my absolute ignorance of Mr. Mitchell’s entire body of work; relief that what I received isn’t in any way extreme or heavy, but still satisfies my need for dynamic music with just a bit of danger to it; relief that I have something new to love that elicits a wide range of emotions during every spin. I had a good feeling about Feelings Are Good, and to wholeheartedly recommend it to all, well… that feels pretty good.

Rating: Very Good!
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: InsideOut Music
Websites: johnmitchellhq.com | facebook.com/lonelyrobotband
Releases Worldwide: July 17th, 2020

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