Split down the middle

If 9 Songs had been released last fall as planned, it might seem like a different album.

Japanese band FEED released its debut EP, Make Every Stardust Shimmer!, back in March 2000, and its Lenny Kaye-produced debut album was supposed to follow approximately six months later.

But Sony underwent restructuring, and the label subsequently dropped FEED. As a result, 9 Songs arrives nearly a year late.

FEED re-recorded four of the songs from Make Every Stardust Shimmer! and placed them at the start of the album. As a result, listeners who’ve worn out their copy of FEED’s debut may feel displaced, especially since some of the last songs on Stardust open 9 Songs.

Kaye has cleaned up the band’s sound, all but banning reverb and keeping overdubs to a minimum. Some tracks, such as “Find Me” and “As You Like It”, benefit from the treatment, but others, specifically “Laughing”, suffer from it.

After 9 Songs dispenses with all the familiar material, FEED transforms from a band of solid songwriters to a psychedlic outfit.

And that’s where the album starts to suffer from an identity crisis.

The five newer tracks on 9 Songs are a total 180 degrees in mood, proportion and tone to its companion material from Stardust. It’s almost as if FEED record two halves of two albums and put them on one disc.

And given the that 2/3 of the band’s debut appears on 4/9 of the band’s debut album, that seems to be what’s happened.

Which isn’t to say the newer tracks are bad. When singer Saito Maya switches between Japanese and English on “The Bell”, it’s beautiful. “Lucifer” not only has great lyrics (“I’m losing you Lucifer/Don’t leave me now.”) but an unforgettable melody.

But 9 Songs is split in the middle between two opposing aesthetics, and the tension is never resolved satisfactorily.