A lovely strain of uplift runs through “How It Feels,” the latest offering from a band with currents of melodicism and humanity consistently twinning through their music. Maybe it’s there in the plinky, upturning synth line that, recycling, impels us forward, or in the inscrutable, airy, Lindsay Buckingham-ish declarations of the verses (“Feel the noise add up under my skin/Look around as if I only just noticed,” et al.). And then, the thing that really grips the heart: the chorus, which only subtly alters the verse melody, but with the incisive entry of a female singing partner, joining only for the phrase “But I wanted to tell you” (it’s “And I wanted to tell you” the second time, sung the same way). Notice the delightful little leap on the word “tell,” and the guileless conversion of “you” to “ya,” which itself feels like the hug the song is benevolently aspiring to offer via words and music.
“How It Feels” opens itself to us as it goes. Listen for the synth insertions—ambling, flute-like, nearly dissonant—that begin between verses (around 1:19) and proceed to work themselves into the mix. A later instrumental break finds a guitar infiltrating with neither warning nor fuss (2:23), like a long-lost relative at a family reunion. The lyrics, meanwhile, are awash with the empathy currently struggling to re-establish itself in a world seemingly gone vicious and unreflective. This too shall pass, and in the meantime, we hold onto each other, those of us who believe in good hearts.
“How It Feels” is a single offered up by Ages and Ages back in October. It was recently featured as a free and legal download via KEXP, which is my source here. The band is from Portland, Oregon; they have released three full-length LPs to date, the most recent, Something to Ruin, in 2016. They have been previously featured on Fingertips in 2011 and 2014. The band lists five members in its core, but with a couple of dozen others in its “extended family.” There are six people in this photo because I’m not sure.