Field Music ‘Plumb’
The Brewis brothers are back, bringing their infectiously strange indie-pop with them. Exactly two years after their previous studio effort, 2010’s ‘(Measure)’, Field Music will release their fourth album, ‘Plumb’ in February 2012.
‘Start The Day Right’
The orchestral opening of ‘Start The Day Right’ is the perfect kick-off; the chilling piano tinker creeps up the stairs alongside a baroque-style string movement before bumping into a Paul McCartney melody somewhere on the metaphorical landing.
‘It’s Okay To Change’
A demented piano chord is dispersed amidst fidgety tom rolls and coupled with a falsetto vocal, complete with Beach Boys-harmonies. Clocking in at less than one minute, ‘It’s Okay To Change’ makes for a glorious segue, taking you by the hand directly into the arms of…
‘Sorry Again, Mate’
…which is, of course, a frankly brilliant name for a song. The song itself presents an awkward riff pattern which eventually settles into the kind of melody which sits somewhere between 60s psyche-pop and classical music, rather like The Zombies. In fact, very much like The Zombies, and not in a half-arsed sloppy rip-off fashion, more an extremely articulate and meticulously refined fashion, melding creamy vocals against plinkety guitars, soothing strings and the occasional burst of a trumpet.
‘A New Town’
Something of a natural successor, ‘A New Town’ picks up right about where ‘Sorry Again, Mate’ left off, with its agitated guitar lick and frustratingly syncopated drum rhythm. It’s also undeniably catchy, securing ‘A New Town’ as a crafty slice of schizophrenic pop.
Quietly bubbling away with French horn-style synths, ‘Choosing Sides’ falls into an irregular drum loop, threatening to lead you into a cyclical hypnosis before slipping free, if only fleetingly, into a straight up dual-vocal bridge before delving back into their angular eccentricities.
‘A Prelude To Pilgrim Street’
Do you remember when Paul McCartney was really good? When he was really, REALLY good? When he took all those drugs in the 60s and committed to record some of the most innovative music the world had seen, before he’d ever committed any crimes against popular culture in the form of ‘Mull Of Kintyre’, or decided Birkenstock sandals with a suit was a good look, remember those days? Well the Brewis brothers clearly do, and this is a good thing in every way. And like McCartney in those hazy heydays, they just can’t keep things simple, and thank the Lord for that.
Whilst the gentle guitar strum and vacillating string arrangement don’t exactly depict the suggestively violent title here, ‘Guillotine’ is a fine example of the kind of chamber-rock-meets-baroque-pop capabilities which Field Music seem to nonchalantly produce. The lead guitars recall the intricate work of Television’s Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd in sonic conversation with the late composer Leonard Bernstein, cited as a big influence behind the record.
‘Who’ll Pay The Bills?‘
“If it’s easier to go, than working every day, then leave”, suggests Mr. Brewis, dipping his toes into a bit of topical commentary, maybe, who knows. Either way, the infectious drum shuffle which glides along with an incessant cow bell aids ‘Who’ll Pay The Bills’ in becoming a claustrophobic cocoon of shrill guitars and squelching synth-bass.
‘So Long Then’
A delicate piano and arpeggiated acoustic guitar into a bouncing music-hall bop. It’s this kind of exuberance that the Brewis brothers do so well and songs like this demonstrate their idiosyncratic nature. It highlights what they do – sometimes it’s ridiculous, sometimes it’s brilliant – but more often than not, it’s just ridiculously brilliant.
‘Is This The Picture?’
I don’t know, is it? Is there a need to use a rhetorical question? Should they have just named this album, ‘This is good, isn’t it?’ But if this is the picture, then it’s much less a Renaissance portrait than it is a Dadaist collage, a masquerade of restless energy, from the pounding drums, seemingly arbitrary synthesizer squeaks and the irritatingly inconsistent structure of the thing.
‘From Hide And Seek To Heartache’
Contrary to what the title suggests, ‘From Hide And Seek To Heartache’ doesn’t sound like a sappy love song full of treasured childhood memories. Or rather if it is, they’ve done a fine job of ensuring it doesn’t conform to that. Instead they use emotive strings to convey a loose sense of nostalgia against the wavering melody which floats gently atop the rich textures and mutli-layered polyrhythm.
‘How Many More Times?’
Another of their ephemeral transition pieces, ‘How Many More Times?’ is an a capella piece which could easily be The Beatles’ ‘Because’ arranged by Brian Wilson, enquiring ‘Is this want you want? People, you’ll never see…’
A monstrous orchestral piece, ‘Ce Soir’, which is pretentious for ‘Tonight’, builds through layers of keys and strings, and is akin to the transition pieces that turn up in film adaptations of Penguin Classic novels. It builds into a climatic coda before being intercepted by a lone piano and a solitary voice.
‘Just Like Everyone Else’
One bass note, that is all you need. And an archetypal krautrock drum beat to accompany. Then you go wild with guitars, synthesizers, vocals harmonies, Indian nose flutes, the whole shebang. The incessant rhythm section continues to groove, whilst half-surf half-‘Albatross’ chords ring out, and sleek synth pads creep in and out. Okay, the bit about Indian nose flutes was made up.
‘(I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing’
Available to listen to above, ‘(I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing’ has been the teaser for ‘Plumb’, and it’s a lovely introduction to the record, despite being the final track. If anything, it doesn’t come close to other tracks on the record, almost as if Peter and David Brewis are teasing us with tracks not quite up to par. Having said that, the sublime bass groove and typically irregular beat carry the falsetto into the strange agitated pop they do so well.