After putting out two live albums since forming in 2016, The Feast of Snakes have finally released their first studio record. The self-titled LP compiles the best of their songs to date, with their loose lyrics and raucous instrumentals captured perfectly by producer Jordan Shakespeare. The album is built around vocalist Lewis O’Donnell’s songwriting, and features collaborations from Olivia O’Donnell and Peter Leveson-Gower, plus some of the late Felix Burrows’ work.
The album, much like in the music in Shakespeare and O’Donnell’s other band Cuss, is recorded and produced through a fusion of digital and analog techniques. This “hybrid mixing” creates a warm and lively sound, pairing the crackle prominent in older classic records with the polished sheen of modern production.
Opening track Where Do All the Punks Hangs Out sets a chaotic tone for the record that doesn’t let up over its generous one-hour run time as the melodies swing and sway around with psychedelic levels of energy. Although the punk influences are clear, Lewis O’Donnell’s vocal style also harks back to classic songwriters, with a bit of Bob Dylan’s earnest twang and colourful lyricism in his delivery.
Car Crash is a touch more chill, with smooth violin, soft touches of the cymbals, and gritty guitar akin to The Velvet Underground, creating a slow and deep rhythm that listeners can lose themselves in as it drags out emotions of melancholy from within. The downside though is that the song is long, much like half of the tracks on the album. So if listeners don’t lose themselves in the music, they may be ready to move on to the next track before The Feast of Snakes are.
Having said that, there are enough twists and turns to keep you interested. An assortment of other instruments or unexpected sounds are thrown into the mix throughout, whether it be the organ, orchestral sweeps, sparkling keys or wholesomely scrappy singalongs (and is that a dog barking on Again and Again?). The appropriately named Final Track takes a disarmingly different turn, with a classical duet between a scratchy violin and an accordion bringing the record to a beautiful and compelling close.
The Feast of Snakes’ first studio album is raucous, playful, and captivating. Strap yourself in for a ride through high energy riffs, vivid songwriting, scuzzed-out psych and everything in between.