Pitchfork gave Field Music' s new album, Plumb, a 7.3 rated review today.
Published February 13th 2012:
"Field Music have spent most of their career making post-punk for pop lovers. Like their North East England brethren the Futureheads and Maximo Park, the duo had a penchant for playing cut and paste with clichés-- paying melodic homage to Paul McCartney, but going art-school with its song form.
But when the band's core members, brothers Peter and David Brewis, re-emerged from a three-year hiatus in 2010, it seemed like they had ironed out their reservations about straightforward rock'n'roll. Not only was their comeback record, Measure, a double album-- the true standard for rock excess-- but it found them writing full-fledged songs, complete with verses, choruses, and guitar solos.
That's all over now, though. Field Music's latest album, Plumb, finds them returning to the deconstructionist impulses that guided it's earliest records. With 15 songs in 35 minutes, this is Field Music at their most baroque-- a record of sweetly melodic miniatures that coalesce into form only long enough to tumble into the next meticulously designed song suite.
Over the years, Field Music have become the world's leading ambassadors of the a distinctly British musical style, that of quaint suburban sensibility shot through with a dry self-depreciating sense of humor. The album's first three songs-- "Start the Day Right", "It's Okay to Change", and "Sorry Again, Mate"-- tumble into one another, linked through a series of brain-teasing time signatures and transitions. But the subject matter is the stuff of the workaday world. "Trying to beat the traffic, meet the train only guessing the time," sings David, pondering his commute over solemn piano chords.
"Choosing Sides" navigates between an odd time verse and a straight-laced chorus before jettisoning both feels for a buttoned-up take on electro funk. "I want a different idea of what better can be that doesn't necessitate having more useless shit," sings like a man who has come to a tough impasse with an Ikea instruction manual. For Field Music, quiet desperation is still the English way, even when they're riffing on Prince.
They're better at this stuff now than they used to be, though. The band's first releases, Field Music and Tones of Town, plied the same cut and paste techniques with less success. One plinky keyboard part gave way to the next, often with little to help distinguish between ideas. Plumb has more dynamic. Where older Field Music songs used to rely heavily on static keyboard riffs, they've learned to strip down and leave space for the drums tug the song forward. Each song-snippet sounds distinct and fully realized.
But it's a bit disappointing to see the Brewis brothers walk away from Measure's more conventional approach. That record's best moments, like the shimmering Big Star homage, "You and I", were patient and spacious. Plumb is a little too fussy. Great hooks rise up, but are quickly abandoned in the rush to the next good idea. Taken out of context, Plumb's best songs don't stand on their own quite as well. It's better to take them on all at once in single gulp." - words by Aaron Leitko
Purchase Plumb on CD, LP, single song or full album MP3 download HERE.
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