Liam Hayes recorded the first Plush album More You Becomes You virtually alone because he couldn't find any other musicians to live up to his impossibly exacting standards; for Fed, he recruited everyone from veteran R&B arranger Tom Tom MMLXXXIV to jazz session drummer Morris Jennings to stalwart indie noisemaker Steve Albini to create a record as rich, complex, and ornate as the previous record was simple and spare. Evoking the grandiose orchestral pop of legends like Laura Nyro, Todd Rundgren, and producer Curt Boettcher -- as well as the symphonic soul-jazz of another underappreciated Chicago cult hero, Charles Stepney -- Fed builds on Hayes' infectious melodies with layer upon layer of strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion, and backing vocals that together teeter on the brink of sheer excess without ever quite toppling over. For all its studio sheen, Fed is most impressive for its songs -- Hayes is a remarkable composer equally adept at both punchy, blue-eyed soul like "I've Changed My Number" and forlorn ballads like "Born Together," and his delicate, poignant vocals remain the most persuasive instrument in his arsenal. ~ Jason Ankeny
Uncut (p.132) - 4 stars out of 5 - "For those of us with the stamina to pursue this recondite semi-genius, the eccentricities are what make his music so appealing."
Magnet (pp.104-6) - There's still a menagerie of instruments on UNDERFED, employing everything from Hayes' beloved mellotron and chamberlain to French horn and cello....The songs on UNDERFED are anything but anemic."
Q (Magazine) (p.120) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "FED can finally be heard as a testament to Hayes's widescreen obsessions, 'No Education' and 'Unis' melting down '70s soul and Vegas cabaret into one disorienting sweep."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.110) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[M]isshappen, rambling melodramas with a bubblegum heart, loads of tape hiss and amp buzz, wheezing string machines, claustrophobic singing. It's held together by duct tape but bulges with secrets."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.89) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "The warm and woozy mood grabs you by the heart, with pop diamonds such as 'Greyhound Bus Station' shining out in waves of bright brass and sexy strings."