Sunderland's Field Music have escaped from the gloom of the world (and the shocking form of their local football team) by nestling into a studio in a light industrial estate to make their 6th album. Full to the brim with flute, flugelhorn and other non-rock instruments, the album continues their escapist vision of a time when Steely Dan ruled the land.
8/10 Clinton Staff review, 31 January 2018
This Sunderland duo are certainly musical clever clogs. They can play every instrument under the sun, they have some pretty classy melodic and rhythmic ideas that they've managed to stretch into a pretty lengthy and successful career. But rarely have I heard a Field Music song that has made me feel anything other than a kind of warm admiration for their talents. What they lack is.... emotion. I suppose it comes with the territory of being really clever ...but even 10CC had 'I'm Not In Love'.
It's a small gripe but it's what prevents them being a favourite band of mine. 'Open Here' sees them continue to be Sunderland's answer to Steely Dan, an album of astonishingly impressive well crafted pop full of myriad tempo, mood and texture changes but you know what? They'll never make me cry. On 'Count It Up' they make a much more valiant attempt at re-creating Prince-like mid 80's funk pop than they did on their 2016 opus 'Commontime'. It's a great track full of barbed, political lyrics and dancefloor dexterity. Similarly 'Share A Pillow' sees them using complex chord changes within a pop structures - a lavishly constructed harmony drenched thing that stays just on the right side of the twiddly proggish-ness that sometimes makes their compositions too squiggly for my tastes.
'Open Here' is, as usual, a good album but what I'm most happy about is a slight return to their more orchestrated chamber-pop sound that they have steered away from in recent years. The title track is truly stunning - an orchestral tour de force that would be worthy of the Beatles at their most 'Eleanor Rigby' ish.
Like all Field Music albums 'Open Here' is very easy to admire yet harder to fall in love with but I feel that here they are closer to marrying their undoubted musical chops with the kind of melodies that snag true and deep. Having listened to it for reviewing purposes I'm walking away wanting to play it again, aching to hear if those micro hooks flower into a truly memorable album.
9/10 Glug Customer review, 21st February 2018
As a long-time fan of Field Music, Clinton’s review really made me think - his notion that they lacked passion made me review their back catalogue. And I can see what he means to an extent. Perhaps their previous records have been too clinical, if you want to find a criticism, but I still enjoyed them. Open Here is different. Fired up by Brexit and the effect that result has on their kids, there’s love and a genuine concern for the future in those grooves.
I enjoyed “Plumb” a lot, and “Commontime” turned out to be an ultimately rewarding grower. Open Here is a grower too, but as it grows, it flourishes and blossoms, it’s more organic. At the moment, when I’m not listening to it, I miss it.
The music is constantly interesting and their use of strings, flute, horns and backing vocals to flesh out and season their sound is superbly executed.
Plumb was reviewed by one critic as a “tasting menu of rock history”. Open Here is similar, but more fully realised. It’s angular, poppy, funky, cinematic and probably more rounded than previous efforts.
Like with other albums, you can clearly hear their influences. “Share A Pillow” melds 10cc, Roxy Music and The Move. “Time For Joy” has Frank Zappa-style musical complications, also the melody of this reaches further than their songs did before, suggesting more passion in the vocal performance. David Brewis himself claims that the angry anti-Brexit song is musically his version of Madonna’s Material Girl and at times he lets out a soulful growl. “Checking On A Message” is Rubber Soul-era Beatles with a dusty blues-rock undertone reminiscent of ‘70s ZZ Top then it throws in another Zappa-esque solo, which is either played on keyboard or one of those Peter Frampton talkbox things.
“Goodbye To The Country” sounds a hell of a lot like Nik Kershaw, but that’s okay – if fits the album’s ‘80s aesthetic nicely. Also, as a 9 year old it was all about Nik Kershaw for me! “No King No Princess” employs some popping funk grooves and has and endearing chorus sung alternately by David Brewis and Cornshed Sister and increasingly influential Field Music touring member, Liz Corney. “Daylight Saving” is a swooning, gentle pop ditty with Beatles harmonies. Possibly the star of the album is the closing track “Find A Way To” which is mostly unlike anything they’ve done before. It reminds me of some of the more incidental pieces from King Crimson’s In The Court Of The Crimson King, but is more optimistic and pastoral, using strings and flute to great effect.
I think here that Field Music have taken a real step forward, a progression hinted at on “Plumb” and with the song “Disappointed” from their last LP “Commontime”. I can’t wait to here where the next album goes.
8/10 Alan Customer review, 15th February 2018
So close to greatness. They'd be up there with Talking Heads if only the songs were as good. Clever, clever band but just missing that magic touch.
Side A has one weak song but the rest is really good. B side not too shabby either.
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