[sic] Magazine

Field Music – Plumb

There’s something about Field Music that suggests being literal, straightforward and un-cool is OK. There’s magic here, but the Brewis brothers are too practical and self-effacing to pretend that their music is anything other than the product of their influences, hard graft in the studio, and an ongoing exploration of their musical and lyrical preoccupations. Being in a band may be yielding diminishing financial returns, which would suggest that these most pragmatic of men should try something else – but they just can’t help themselves. They make music much, much better than most.

The things that seem to inspire Peter and David Brewis to create are details – whether moments in a day that fall between fun activities worth tweeting about, or musical moments that reinvigorate your faith in the revelatory possibilities of pop music. Album number four, Plumb is a patchwork of details tightly woven across 35 minutes. Previous album Measure stretched its ideas out across two discs, which left me a little frustrated. While it has plenty of jaw-dropping moments, the second half seriously lags, with all those field recordings and lacklustre riffs. Amazingly, for an album that’s so fast-moving and crammed with riffs and hooks, there are moments on Plumb that can lag a bit too (‘A Prelude to Pilgrim Street’) – but only in comparison to the breakneck succession of catchy melodies that surround them. The less interesting songs act as moments to breathe, as if too much excitement would make you explode. Steady on lad, have a cup of tea – don’t get carried away.

The first three tracks flow together like the second half of Abbey Road . Another obvious Beatles reference point is ‘A Day in the Life’, especially on opening track ‘Start the Day Right’, which alternates between the wiggly prog melodies of Peter’s section and the McCartney-esque feel of David’s section. On first listen I got scared. It felt too clever to really connect. Repeat listens reveal it to be beautifully audacious and immensely likeable. This is the Brewis brothers, after all. They’re the kind of musicians you want to befriend.

Aside from the obvious Beatles connections, there’s plenty of other more diverse influences to trainspot: Prince , Yes , ELO , Queen . It’s a lot funkier and less starchy than their earlier records, which is great. It’s absurdly smart guitar-pop with prog, jazz and funk leanings. All the instruments are impeccably recorded. Nothing feels out of place. It can sound a bit inhuman if you spend too much time with it, but the songwriting is so strong that if you give yourself time away, you’ll feel the itch to come back. The strongest songs are quite ridiculously good. In fact, I doubt I’ll hear better songs than ‘A New Town’, ‘Who’ll Pay The Bills?’, ‘From Hide and Seek to Heartache’, ‘Just Like Everyone Else’ or ‘A New Thing’ for the remainder of the year – and it’s only March.

Just one more thing. Dear Brewis brothers, please come to Australia. Thanks.

Field Music @ myspace

Field Music @ Soundcloud