Portland garage psych outfit the Shivas released their sixth full-length album, Dark Thoughts, in late 2019 and prepared for their usual cycle of intensive touring in support of the record. The COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of one gig after another, and suddenly the Shivas were stuck in the unfortunate position of having just released one of their most exciting albums a few months ahead of a global calamity that made it impossible to properly share. The months that followed found the bandmembers investing more time in their local communities, and channeling some of their reflections from a turbulent phase into material for seventh LP Feels So Good // Feels So Bad. This is by no means a typical "quarantine record." The songs are still marked by the mix of passion, mystery, and razor-wire hooks that have been foundational to the Shivas' sound since their mid-2000s inception. Underneath the band's patented garage psych bluster is a sense of lightness and understanding that's brand-new. Songs like the fuzzy soul of "If I Could Choose" and the uncharacteristically jangly "For the Kids" feel introspective and thoughtful both musically and lyrically, while slow-burners like "You Wanna Be My Man" and acoustic closer "Please Don't Go" are some of the more patient and low-lit sounds the band have ever achieved. But Feels So Good // Feels So Bad is in no way an overserious affair. Along with the mellower, more thoughtful tunes, the Shivas still rock out ferociously on garage psych groove "My Baby Don't," turn in Ramones-descendent bubblegum punk on "Rock Me Baby," and stretch out in fields of Velvet Underground-esque guitar leads and Farfisa organ on the sharply dynamic "Undone." What's absent from Feels So Good // Feels So Bad isn't any of the intensity of previous work. That intensity finds new, more refined forms that take the songs interesting places. The core of confusion and upheaval that drove some of the band's most fiery earlier work, however, is replaced by a more stabilized undercurrent, a mentality that's reflected in songs not afraid to try new things and honestly explore uncomfortable feelings. When combined with exciting production and songwriting choices, that mindset helps make Feels So Good // Feels So Bad one of the Shivas' best albums.
Feels So Good//Feels So Bad Review
by Fred Thomas