Field Music recorded their first album ten years ago in a little studio called 8 Music, located in a former colliery in Sunderland. Their unusual time signatures, staccato guitars and sax stabs felt brilliantly geeky compared with the indie-pop output of their peers, the Futureheads and Maximo Park. When 8 Music lost funding, Peter and David Brewis, the brothers behind Field Music, moved to an industrial unit on the banks of the Wear, taking the curtains with them in order to retain the same acoustics. While the indie scene of the early 2000s withered, Field Music, who never cared much about it in the first place, continued to release albums. They never bothered the charts but stunned the critics, earning a Mercury nomination for their fourth album, “Plumb” (2012).
Their new album, “Commontime”, opens with the two brothers admonishing one another for staying up too late when they should “get to bed like everybody else”. But they can’t help themselves: “The Noisy Days Are Over” goes on for six-and-a-half minutes of voluptuous, brassy refrains and exquisitely precise guitar melodies they probably spent all night on. The name “Commontime” might allude to more straightforward time signatures. Or maybe it hints at the brothers’ attempts to get back in gear after their last collaboration, a soundtrack they were commissioned to write for a 1929 documentary about the British herring industry.
“Commontime” may be a touch less difficult than previous albums but it’s still terrifically uncool, heavy on references to Pink Floyd and full of reminders to be kind. “The Morning Is Waiting For You” is a fully orchestrated Abbey Road tribute that implores listeners to pursue their dreams. After ten years, Field Music have crystallised their craft. There has never been a better time to step into their warm, wonky world. ~ hazel sheffield
Commontime Memphis Industries, Feb 5th
Music AT A GLANCE
Daughter (album, Jan 15th). Their debut, “If You Leave” came out in the afterglow of The xx’s success and was mainlined straight into the bloodstream of lovers of moody British indie. Expensive production adds a new layer on “Not To Disappear”, but singer Elena Tonra’s smouldering vocals are still the big draw.
Tindersticks (album, Jan 22nd). Stuart Staples is good at bleakness: the last Tindersticks album was commissioned by the first-world-war museum in Ypres to accompany the permanent exhibition. The loungier moments on their 11th album, “The Waiting Room”, prove they can still affect a lightness to blacken the shade.
Savages (album, Jan 22nd). Frontwoman Jehnny Beth sings of love on “Adore Life”, but chainsaw guitars and off-kilter rhythms show Savages’ renewed lust for violence.
Grimes (touring Asia, Jan 26th to Feb 14th; Europe, Feb 17th to March 15th). Under pressure to live up to her reputation as the queen of futuristic pop, Grimes took much longer than expected to write “Art Angels”. In a feted comeback, she steps up to the plate with big, glossy songs, backed by dancers, lasers and lights. ~ HS