We all have those favorite local bands that drive us mad by never getting around to releasing an album. Heavy Mole was one of those bands for me. The Columbus combo was built around frontman Sam Craighead’s clever, emotionally resonant songwriting, which his bandmates fleshed out with lush instrumentation that made Heavy Mole’s music feel like private handwritten notes come to life in vibrant Technicolor. The band’s meticulous attention to detail was one of their greatest strengths, but it also prevented them from ever finishing their debut album after laboring over it for years. So when Craighead started a new band called Feature Films, one that framed his songs in cavernous psych-pop, I tried to temper my high expectations, writing in Columbus Alive, “Here’s hoping this project actually gets around to releasing an album.”
Five years later, they finally did! Feature Films is worth the wait, too. It’s the album I always dreamt they would make, in part because it often sounds just like a dream. The world-weary tone and intuitive melody that have always defined Craighead’s singing remain a constant, as does his self-deprecating wit. (His sense of humor extends to the press release: “Feature Films is a little bit preppy, sort of alternative, NOT JOCKS, but they are friends with pretty much everyone at school. They play every kind of music except rap and country.”) But where Heavy Mole dealt in charming piano-pop, Feature Films lives up to their name, blasting Craighead’s humble story-songs onto sky-sized templates. The resulting music somehow sounds both intimate and grandiose, post-rock and twee, dead tired and wide awake, deeply complex and completely natural. All those years of tinkering added up to something special.
Listen to Feature Films in full below.