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Album Review

by Field Music

Memphis Industries

Review Date
17th March 2010
Reviewed by
Gareth Meade

If there’s one thing that emanates from Field Music, it isn’t a sense of haste. While they have always been succinct and almost mathematical in aesthetic, their carefully crafted songs float rather than sting; are curved as opposed to angular. It’s something that sets them apart from their musical and geographical compatriots, all of whom epitomise urgency. So it may seem that by all of a sudden releasing a magisterial 20 song double album, they are quickening their step in order to make up for the intervening three years since their sophomore album Tones of Town.

Which isn’t a totally unfounded accusation. After all, they didn’t spend that time working on a follow-up, but instead core members (and brothers) David and Peter Brewis went on hiatus to work on separate projects; namely School of Language for David and The Week that Was for Peter. Rejoining forces mid 2009, and minus third member Andrew Moore, they have returned, almost out of the blue, with the uncharacteristically lengthy Measure.

But that is the first and only thing uncharacteristic about it. Never feeling rushed, or undercooked, Measure nestles the listener back into the happy formula of Field Music’s two previous albums with all the tuneful aplomb you could hope for. Early numbers In The Mirror, Them That Do Nothing and Each Time is A New Time seesaw between the familiar touchstone of XTC and a welcome hint of Paul McCartney transitioning from The Beatles to Wings. In fact, there is more than a pinch of classic rock thrown into Measure’s mix, culminating in the guitar solo of penultimate track Share the Words. It may be a scary thought for some, but it actually contributes to the prevalent pop (albeit fielding to the left) sound Field Music are so good at creating.

And yes, this album is long, but never is a derivative fashion. What may instead irk some is the familiarity of every song; one unexpected guitar chord after another, with layers of incongruent orchestration, forced together to sound perfect. Of course, if that is a problem, you were never completely sold on Field Music in the first place.

Measure is a consistently great, occasionally transcendent album. If you didn’t know better, you could be forgiven for thinking that it did take three years to write and record. The fact that it didn’t only makes it better. And if it eventuated that they were trying to make up for their absence, no one could argue that Measure isn’t recompense enough.

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