Review Summary: An average guy singing about average problems in an excellent way.
Nothing about There Is No Feeling Better
, the new album from Mike Adams at His Honest Weight, is revolutionary. It doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table and in fact takes influence from decades of music. You can delve into the lyrics and be encompassed by the sound, as there is a lot to delve into and it’s perfectly capable of encompassing. However, no amount of delving or encompassing is by any means necessary to enjoy Mr. Adams record. This is a record that reflects the title of the band. It doesn’t try to hide what some people may think of as flaws, doesn’t make any pretenses about what it truly is, and is humorously charming in the bluntness of its existence. All of these details make it all the more lovable.
The album itself is a charming version of indie pop. Acoustic guitar, light percussion, Mike Adams’ soothing voice, and wonderful melodies are the main components of the album. There will be an occasional piano riff, strings, some background hums (also done by Adams), accentuated percussive sound effects, and other musical details that add a pleasant layer to the songs. However, the entirety of the album is wonderfully simple. Soothing ballad “Wonderful to Love” has percussion throughout that doesn’t sound unlike droplets of water and a simple string arrangement throughout, all with Adams wistful lyrics reflecting on past loves. “Educated Guess” wouldn’t sound out of place on a Cat Stevens record, it being slow ballad with flute accenting Adams asking Will they remember our success or our failures/Or will we be remembered at all?
as a gentle guitar line lulls the listener into accepting the somehow calm existential crisis that Adams describes.
The entire album has this quality of drawing the listener in. This is managed by Adams conversational tone and the warm atmosphere created by the instruments surrounding them. This warm embrace of music exists in both the formerly described ballads are the more upbeat numbers, which are not to be forgotten. Although Adams succeeds in his often wistful approach, he also has a knack for creating an honest-to-goodness pop hit with an inescapable chorus. Second track “Do You One Better” is a prime example, with a simple and plucky guitar riff backed by strings giving away to an acoustic strumming and simple percussion. The song builds to one of the best choruses of the year, which somehow wouldn’t feel out of place in a 90s teen romance movie. It’s undeniable charming and fuzzy, and highlights Adams penchant for humorous, dad-like lyrics, such as If heaven isn’t great we can waltz right out
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about There Is No Feeling Better
is that it manages to feel relevant. This is a record that wouldn’t sound out of place any decade from the 60s to our current one. Just as there was the Cat Stevens reminiscent “Educated Guess”, “Olivia” somehow wouldn’t sound out of place as a ballad on a Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons record. In both sound and content, it’s focused on nostalgia. Every song seems like it should have clear classic pop influences, from The Monkeys to Weezer, but it still feels fresh, honest, and original. Adams lyrics are both introspective, but also relatable, thinking of childhood, current love, past loves, and just trying to make sense of the world, both for himself, his children, and whoever happens to wander across his album. Put bluntly, he’s an average white dude singing about average white dude problems. But the charm is that he doesn’t try to be anything more, and the album doesn’t try to be either. He doesn’t attempts to come up with answers about any of the questions he poses, or if he does, there is no arrogance in his approach. He poses them, thinks about them, gives them a chuckle, and sends them along their way, content to have just had the thought cross his mind.
The album leads us along these themes until it finally culminates in closing track “No Better”. Putting Mike Adams and his incredibly pure and earnest voice at the forefront, it’s a masterpiece of acoustic pop. Backing the vocals are a collection of warbling guitar riffs, strings, synths, and a perfectly basic drum fill. It leads to an outro of a simple piano line, but not before a perfect chorus that shows that Adams simply wants to live his best life and help others do the same, no matter how complex that might be.
A bad example of a life like that
Gets black in the middle
But you can’t see inside out
I’m faded now, so faded.