Friday, December 10, 2010

Sweeping The Nation Albums Of 2010: Number 23

The Brewis brothers have never lacked for ambition - hell, when they took time off from Field Music they went and released solo projects in the same year - but a double album of their pristine compositions? Ambitious but foolhardy? Well, yeah, maybe. But there's more than a single album of greatness in the coquettishly titled Field Music (Measure). Their new field of vision eschews the bone dry new wave precision of their first two albums for a kind of piano-based art school pop, all Bowie solos, FM rock turned inverse and post-Beatles command of melody and harmony. They're still in thrall to an extent to XTC, but they're well into the non-touring shed-recording pastoral Rundgren phase. That's far from the only reference point, but Rundgren's playing fast and loose with the conventions of highly produced and accurate versions of what would form alternative, with half an ear on the day's US radio, is something to keep in mind.

While there's no overarching theme besides the usual examination of a life lived in grey cities and through work, there's something for everyone bred on the Field Music way of doing things. Radio ready clipped indie? Them That Do Nothing, laced with handclaps, mini-solos and a clean aesthetic. Each Time Is A New Time is arrythmic and structured all over the place. The baroque strings and best Beach Boys harmonies appear on the bouncy lounge pop of Measure. The Rest Is Noise explores Zombies psychedelia, Curve Of The Needle big piano balladry. Let's Write A Book is, remarkably, double tracked funk with falsetto harmony lead vocals. There is filler, but not much considering. What there is is a newly cleaned aesthetic, plus a liberal 70s rock sheen, that borrows liberally but remains fascinatingly just out of zeitgeist.


Them That Do Nothing

The full list

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