Field Music went on hiatus after touring their brilliant 2012 album Plumb. Brothers Peter and David Brewis undertook various projects including David’s School of Language album Old Fears and producing and playing on Ripe by Slug. Now they’re back with a new album, Commontime. Whereas Plumb was a stream of consciousness - melodic ideas melding into one another, Commontime contains more conventionally structured songs taking in ‘70s influences such as David Bowie and Roxy Music and filtering them through ‘80s influences such as Talking Heads, Japan and Scritti Politti. Available on indies only double Neon Orange vinyl LP, standard double vinyl LP and CD.
Vinyl Double LP £18.99 MI0387LP
2LP on Memphis Industries.
- Includes download code
CD £4.99 MI0387CD
CD on Memphis Industries.
Limited Vinyl Double LP £16.99 MI0387LPX
Limited indies only 180g NEON ORANGE coloured vinyl 2LP on Memphis Industries.
- Coloured vinyl
- Indies only
- Limited edition
- Includes download code
I wish I hadn't read the press release as I was looking forward to this. I'm not sure I want to hear a record which lyrically depicts settling down and nappy changing. Just imagine Lou Reed approaching such source material. However, if anyone is going to make such grown up concerns palatable it will be Field Music.
'The Noisy Days Are Over' is a whip smart opener and even dares to add a discordant sax solo just to piss me off even more. Luckily by the time it arrives the song has had plenty of time to worm it's way into your brain. It's a typical Field Music composition, taught and tight just falling short of classic status by not having a melody you could hum in the shower....or when putting the bairn to bed. The album has the same hollow-ish sound that all their records have but there's a particularly '80's feel to this one. 'Disappointed' to me falls on the wrong side of what I'd call the Hue and Cry divide. On the right side Prince, Chic, Prefab Sprout. On the wrong side Curiosity Killed the Cat, Johnny Hates Jazz .....and Hue and Cry.
Similarly '80's referencing but waaaay better is 'But Not For You', loads of nods here to 'Protest Songs' era Prefab Sprout with lots of accomplished chord changes. My issue often with Field Music is that they are too 'music college' for their own good - brilliant musicianship, clever compositions but lacking in soul and real gnawing hooks - but this one gets it just right.
This is certainly their most bold LP - the production though still boxy is much more punchy - there's much more funk to the palette and the vocal harmonies are both more complex and more obvious. Certain songs have real pop choruses - "How Should I Know If You've Changed" has scratchy guitar like Nile Rogers playing with a razorblade and flowers nicely. It also has the most compressed drum sound I've heard this millennium and even with the tuneful chorus the drums are quite intrusive into the track. It's nice then to hear the 10CC complex-pop of 'Trouble At the Lights' with it's subtly discordant and eerie melodies and particularly the Cardinal style orch pop of 'They Want You to Remember' which has a completely superfluous string coda tacked on for no sane reason. 'It's a Good Thing' is a particularly lovely ode to 80's soul/funk with great backing vocals which add colour to Field Music's monochrome delivery. This is what Hall and Oates would sound like after spending a day on Seaburn beach.
Full disclosure: I've never really dug anything by them as much as I did 'Tones For Town'. I kinda wish for them to be a bit more concise sometimes and they could do with losing the sprawl here at times. With it's 14 tracks and thousands of twists and turns though 'Commontime' isn't going to be the type of record to reveal its secrets in one listen.
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- Commontime by Field Music
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