Record Review by Daniel Brody
When Field Music is first put on, it’s difficult to get the Futureheads comparisons out of your head. The energetic harmonies sound similar for sure, and after a bit of digging, you realize that lead singer Pete Brewis once played drums for The Futureheads and hails from the same dreary North English town. The rhythms feel stiffer, with much less sloppy emotion and breathless vigour, and there is the temptation to dismiss the band by grading them on the Futureheads’ curve. But where that band finds inspiration in the new wave punk rock of The Jam, Field Music are craftsmen, composing and arranging elegant orchestral suites with Brian Wilson harmonies and painstakingly plotted instrumentation.
The songs on Field Music’s self-titled full-length debut are classy affairs, full of string quartets, falsetto croons, and tastefully muted horns. The lyrics are lightweight, little more than platitudes along the lines of “Well you can have all you ask for/Though it’s not what you want.” The real lyricism comes in the form of the everpresent voices of the Brewis brothers melting into one another, beautifully aping “God Only Knows”. Sure, Field Music is copying old souls like the Zombies and XTC, but unlike a punk band or one of those endless supplies of indie guitar dance bands, you need to have some chops to make orchestral pop. You can either arrange a tune, or you dumb it down to three chords and a pointless attitude problem. One listen to the mournful piano tinkling burn of “It’s Not the Only Way to Be Happy” and you know Field Music earnestly mean it.
If The Futureheads are a pint of lager, laughing it up at the pub to drown a week of messy relationships and crappy jobs, then Field Music are a glass of port, drank alone with a heart full of innocent longing. Share this album with the daydreams of the crush that’s just out of your reach.
More by this writer:
Cluster & Eno - Cluster & Eno
Caroline - Murmurs
Big City Dreams - Honesty
Oliver Future - Live - Jan. 30, 2006