Plush Fed(Broken Horse/After Hours) Buy it from Insound
Liam Hayes is the sole mastermind behind Plush and this album is his labor of love. Fed is full of ornamental, ridiculously ambitious soul/rock arrangements. Sounding much larger than it has any right to, Fed thankfully lacks any sense of over-indulgence or self-grandeur that usually accompanies such a project. Breaking away from the simplicity of his earlier work, which was mostly whispery voice and piano, this is grandiose chamber pop at its best.
Hayes sounds affected and perfect as the leader of an over-sized dream orchestra. Beds of strings, woodwinds, and brass are all placed delicately and are reminiscent of early Chicago albums, the ones before the sap. Songs like I’ve Changed my Number sound like old standards, meticulously re-constructed. Even though the production and arrangements tend to steal the show, Hayes’ songs are the core of Fed. They possess strong skeletons; meaning most of these tracks would work even without the opulence. Hayes’ voice is more gravelly, but delicate and brings gravitas to fluffy compact pop songs like Greyhound Bus Station as well as ballads like Born Together.
Whose Blues starts things off innocently enough with an unadorned electric guitar intro… until an unexpected horn blast and growing layers of instrumentation set the tone for what’s to come. It feels big and every song brims with ideas, but none are drawn out, with only title track exceeding the five-minute mark. The compact quality of each song makes what could have been an otherwise epic failure of a vanity project into a charming curio worthy of re-visits.
The inability to find a proper label in the Western Hemisphere on which to release this project only elevates it to the level of cult status. With Fed, Liam Hayes seems to know that he has made an overly ambitious, maybe even hubristic album. He also doesn’t seem to care much about that, making it that much more appealing.