There was a time when bands used to just shut up and play, but instrumental rock has proven itself to be a commercial dead-end ever since its shining period at the hands of people such as Link Wray and Dick Dale. Rap egoism and pop confessionalism (not to mention reality-TV culture) have only encouraged this surplus of self-important yammering. Avant-jazzheads Tortoise and math-rockers Don Caballero are the only indie cult faves to have been able to live off of playing without a mewling frontperson, a sad situation for instrumental fans.
But on its first album, Language Is Technology, the Feud make it grindingly clear that it doesn’t give a fuck about lyrics — it’s time to rock. Snowballing krautrock, jazz, punk, and post-punk down pop’s historically bumpy hill, these Long Island crunchers have muscled an alluring way with a guitar. The lead tune “N’finite Rug” is a clue to this band’s sonic anxiety, leaping from bar/chord metal drama, to prog-ish folly, to thoughtful jangle, to time-change epilepsy within five and a half minutes. Language is the path of an arty working-stiff, strewn with twerpy synth effects and the occasional horn section, but above all, it’s the finest Meat Puppets-esque double-guitar attack you’ll ever hear.
This album could be easily nudged into a convenient category like “emo,” but we’d be shorting ourselves and the band. For all its rollicking discipline, the Feud has found power in rock’s pure, voiceless emotion.