Feeling Strangely Fine

CD Cover Semisonic
MCA / Universal

Review by Darren Gawle

We, the public, never really know for sure what goes on behind the scenes when a major label meets with its talent to discuss a forthcoming album, but it probably involves a lot of discussion on the label's return on investment. Good songwriting is good songwriting is good songwriting and will pay the bills any day of the week, but what if the band is inclined to go that step further?

That's the kind of vibe Semisonic's second album, Feeling Strangely Fine, has about it: a band with ample ability has put together a collection of good songs to at least show that they want to experiment, but they still sound like they're pulling their punches. The songwriting throughout the album is of a surprisingly high standard (considering most of the dreck that turns up on the radio these days), but it also feels too safe.

Current single "Closing Time" is a good indication of the fare on Feeling... (even though it's not as good as most of the other tracks), mainly due to the trite "hey wow, we all hang out in this bar together but we're all really kinda alone inside when you think about it" subject matter of the lyrics. "Singing in My Sleep" remedies this with a nice little melody and lyrics about that ever-so-nineties way of reaching out and touching someone by sending them a mix tape.

The instrumentation is fairly sparse, which leads to some welcome embellishments by way of the occasional analogue synth. But, guys, if you went through the trouble of tracking down a Mellotron for "She Spreads Her Wings," at least you could have made sure it wasn't buried so much in the mix. Otherwise, what was the point?

Feeling Strangely Fine has 'radio friendly' written all over it and will fit in nicely with Fastball and Third Eye Blind on Big Shiny Tunes Vol.3 next year. Ho hum.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on June 16, 1998

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