YOU can’t practise spontaneity, but that is The Felice Brothers’ forlorn aspiration on their fifth studio album.
They used to be informal, ramshackle, limbo-loose and rowdy as Friday night, recording in high schools or rustic haunts, then they found electronics on 2011’s Celebration, Florida. Favorite Waitress wants to reclaim the old ways, but they swapped upstate New York for Mike Mogis’s Arc Studio in Omaha, Nebraska, and sweated songs into shape in small club gigs en route. Mogis may have worked his alchemy on First Aid Kit and Conor Oberst for two of 2014’s best albums, but Favorite Waitress feels too calculated, too mechanical, despite being recorded live.
The album lurches from country to rock to piano ballads but this restlessness works against it, and Ian Felice’s weary lyrics are no match for those of Simone Felice, who now flies solo. Too much thinking, not enough drinking, has gone into a record that needs more of the wild abandon of Cherry Licorice, its too early peak.
•The Felice Brothers play Leeds Irish Centre on August 29.