Six by Seven
The Way I Feel Today

/mantra; 2002/

rating : I don't like marks but Barbara "the boss" H compels me to: 9



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I first saw Six By Seven during ‘The Things We Make’ tour. I was really impressed by their sonic build-up songs that tend to evolve into white noise by gradations. Incidentally, I have listened a lot to their first album which is very homogenous in a positive way. I thought they had great potential. Considering the excellent live performances, this band is a sort of ‘mainstream Sonic Youth’. A softer one because of the tuneful singing which definitely sounds English. ‘The Closer You Get’ was great, somehow irregular, uneven though. In my opinion, ‘Ten Places To Die’ stands out and this song could have become a tremendous hit. Their third album, called ‘The Way I Feel Today’, gives me the same impression that the previous one left me: it is a good album but some songs really stand out from it. In my opinion, ‘So Close’ and ‘American Beer’ are would-be hits.

‘The Way I Feel Today’ is surprising in the sense that one expected major changes because guitarist Sam Hempton left the band. Despite this departure, the fierce guitar sound is still pervasive throughout the album. The fact that it was recorded live, without overdubs, surely contributes to it. Chris Olley said that when they seemed to forget their intentions, they listened to ‘Surfer Rosa’ in order to keep in mind the need for immediacy. He also said that they wanted to get an edgy sound which renders emotion. They managed to do so.

‘So Close’ starts the album with heady arpeggios which gradually give way to this fierce guitar sound. It is a typical Six By Seven song. It is really great. ‘I.O.U. love’ is a catchy tune whose gimmick and strangely mellow singing could make the band more popular. Surprisingly, these first two songs deal with love and do not really contain this social anger and cynicism usually expressed by the lyrics. ‘All my new best friends’ is a nice acoustic song. When you first listen to the album, it makes you infer that the band has become mellower but it is not true. Indeed, electric guitars will accompany you till the end. The next song (‘Flypapers for Freaks’) really contrasts with the previous ones. It is a sharp punk song expressing the bitterness you feel when someone expects too much of you. ‘Speed is in/speed is out’ is the same kind of song, this time revealing the annoying burden of social expectations (‘I awoke with a pain in my head’ is repeated several times).

Song n°7 ‘American Beer’ is the best song on the album. It reflects the band’s trademark: sonic build-up (overdriven guitars slowly appearing), great guitar melodies and singing. This epic song conveys deep emotion, maybe the helpless anger of the lyrics (‘Nobody told me it would be like this’ is repeated many times) reinforces this impression. ‘Anyway’ is a good indie song filled with cynicism (‘I’m wishing you well everyday of your miserable life’). ‘The way I feel today’ recalls Slowdive in its slow way of making noise. This album ends with two fierce guitars/pounding drums/shouting voice songs. ‘Cafeteria rats’ is about people who have a high opinion of themselves and do not realize that their life is a vacuum while ‘Bad Man’ is a stern confession full of regrets (‘I’ve been a bad man, I have a soul to change’).

‘The Way I Feel Today’, which was supposed to be called ‘Three Compulsory Meatless Days’, is a sincere album. A lot of emotion !  It might mark a change since some parts of the lyrics indicate the need for a change. That may be why the band changed the title of the album: the music remains more or less what Six By Seven has offered us, the feeling of social dissatisfaction is still there too but what is important is the way we feel each day. Is Six By Seven trying to tell us Carpe Diem ??!