FIELD MUSIC Open Here gets 7/10

Field Music
Open Here
Memphis Industries/Redeye

7/10

For the greater majority of the this century, left field indie stalwarts Field Music have cranked out their immaculate brand of art pop to increasing acclaim. Their latest effort Open Here sees Sunderland’s finest musical export continuing to carve out their own idiosyncratic, ever-so-British path.

Field Music’s sound is unique in current music and is truly one to love or hate. They look primarily to the 80s, but not to the smooth synth pop sounds that so many others have plumbed to varying degrees (see MGMT’s latest for a welcome example). Instead, they craft a very particular brand of prog pop, intentionally digging up the over-produced, herky-jerky sounds of 80s Genesis, ABC, Todd Rundgren, and neo prog acts like Marillion. Sometimes they’ll get trickier and lay out some serpentine rhythms akin to 70s wank rockers like Yes or Gentle Giant.

This throwback sound has never been as pronounced as on this record, with soundscapes so garish they’d give Trevor Horn a run for his money. Most songs here feature booming, overly loud drums as well as a smorgasbord of flutes, violins, acoustic and electric guitars, horns, and various keys – all jumping in and out as they so please in a delicious mess. It’s as if they took the jazz and drum break in Sting’s Englishman in New York and extended that sound to a whole album.

If you haven’t run away and this sounds like something you’d enjoy then you’re likely already a fan, in which case this album will not disappoint. This time Field Music inject a heavy dose of herky-jerky funk into proceedings and deliver a fine collection of sassy pop tunes. Opener Time in Joy is built on a great little prog-funk riff as frontman David Brewis relishes in his best Peter Gabriel impression. Count It Up is a great foot-stomping ditty about counting your blessings, striking a perfect lyrical balance between being socially conscious and legitimately endearing.

Share a Pillow is a lurching guitar-and-horn driven number about bunking together, with an outright charming harmonised chorus. Goodbye to the Country rocks hard with its lockstep funk guitar melody and features another great vocal refrain (“When they ask why you’ve come / Don’t you know there’s a real war on”). And Checking on a Message is a badass power pop number with some great guitar flourishes. The album also has a few successful quieter moments such as title track Open Here which rides on its charming pastoral melody

Unfortunately the album loses steam in its final quarter. Cameraman could have been cut and No King No Princess takes the 80s stylistics to obnoxious levels with its high-pitched background vocals. They also throw in a closing classically-inflected instrumental which is utterly forgettable. It’s also unfortunate that nothing here quite reaches the funky heights of 2016 Prince-endorsed single Noisy Days Are Over, nor do the album’s quieter moments ever reach for something as atmospheric as Trouble At the Lights from that same album.

Overall though, this is still a very solid effort from Field Music. Look here if you’re in the mood for some self-aware, mature and danceable art pop that will bring a wry smile to your face.

MATIJA ZIVKOVIC

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