The first Feelies album in twenty years, Here Before reaffirms what their debut LP, Crazy Rhythms, made clear in 1980: although The Feelies have various influences (the Velvet Underground in particular), they’ve forged a unique sound. At times the entire band, featuring two guitarists, two percussionists, and a bassist, acts as a highly inventive rhythm section, creating one taut, sinuous groove after another. Though more concise now, the instrumental rave-ups still pack a punch, and the music is as melodious as ever, with a sweet blend of acoustic and electric guitars and well-defined bass lines. “Morning Comes” and “So Far” retain a light, airy feel throughout while “Way Down” gradually builds momentum and “When You Know” charges right out of the gate. The unobtrusive recording creates a fuller, less jagged sound than early Feelies—and warmer, as befits lyrics that aren’t afraid to be uplifting. If their music’s a pinch calmer than before, it’s not from mellowing; in fact, Here Before seems to celebrate surviving rough patches with spirit intact. When Glenn Mercer sings, “I know things are getting better/It’ll be better than before/It’ll be sooner than you think,” he sounds like he believes those words, and that’s not always an easy thing to do.