FIELD MUSIC – Plumb (Memphis Industries)

David and Peter Brewis have been making albums as Field Music for seven years, and yet this is the first time I have been tempted to try their work. The glowing reviews helped, but I had seen the name around for a while and always felt that I should hear something by them, but just never got around to it. As it turns out, I can now start with arguably their best album and see what I have been missing. ‘Start The Day Right’ is promising from the outset, opening with some nice strings and going through jazzy cello, syncopated vocals, a piano interlude and what sounds like six different songs fighting to be the dominant one. I had sort of been expecting something like this from what I had read, but when you actually hear it it is still something of a surprise. The 58 seconds of ‘It’s OK To Change’ is over almost before it has begun, but ‘Sorry Again, Mate’ manages to keep the melodies down to one or two for an easier listen. ‘A New Town’ is where it all starts to gel, with a catchy indie-pop song built around an insistent bass riff and a traditional verse-chorus-verse structure. Once they get into their stride the good stuff flows, with ‘Choosing Sides’ being another slice of quirky indie-pop, and the rousing rock of ‘Guillotine’ being even better. The gentle piano intro to ‘So Long Then’ leads into a great 60’s influenced baroque-pop song, with the piano staying as lead instrument throughout and with strings added sparingly towards the end. ‘Is This The Picture?’ is much more progressive, with odd time signatures and a stop/start rhythm, but is still very enjoyable, as by now I am beginning to know what to expect from the Brewis brothers. ‘How Many More Times’ is a beautiful a capella piece, much more Beach Boys than Futureheads, and another example that these boys don’t want to stick to one genre. ‘Ce Soir’ is just over a minute of swelling orchestral magic rounded off with a few spoken words, and then we are back to the classic pop of ‘Just Like Everyone Else’, with its catchy melody underpinned by some metronomic drumming, and with some intricate guitar-work throughout. ‘(I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing’ brings back the XTC influences for another of their quirky pop ditties, and being one of their best it is no surprise that it was issued as the lead single back at Christmas. Even though there are 15 tracks on the album its 36 minutes seem to pass all too quickly, but then it does feel like you have listened to a double album with the number of tunes you have heard! Now that I have heard what they can do I will be trawling their back catalogue, but for now I can enjoy this exceptionally good indie-pop album by a band that I have come to far later than they deserve.
Sorry Again, Mate