Field Music — Open Here (February 2, 2018) ★•★ The UK art~rock duo’s first album since the shock of Brexit has the earnest directness of artists whose sense of the world has been nudged into focus. Crafty Sunderland, England~based indie/art rock trio invokes names like XTC and Wire.
Location: Sunderland, UK
Genre: Soundtrack, Indie, Chamber Pop
Styles: Alternative/Indie Rock, Chamber Pop
Album release: February 2, 2018
Record Label: Memphis Industries
01. Time in Joy 6:20
02. Count It Up 3:43
03. Front of House 1:45
04. Share a Pillow 2:55
05. Open Here 2:19
06. Goodbye to the Country 2:27
07. Checking on a Message 3:21
08. No King No Princess 3:40
09. Cameraman 3:42
10. Daylight Saving 3:38
11. Find a Way to Keep Me 5:31
?♣? Andrew Moore
?♣? David Brewis
?♣? Peter Brewis
?♣? Ian Black
?♣? Kev Dosdale
by Olivia Horn, FEBRUARY 2 2018 / Score: 7.2
?♣? It takes a village to make a Field Music album. Peter and David Brewis, the brothers behind the project, have a penchant for excess, and their richly orchestrated art~pop experiments have called for a sizable cast of guest musicians over the last decade~plus. But while more than a dozen artists left their fingerprints on Field Music’s sixth album, the people whose presence is most felt throughout its eleven tracks are nowhere to be found in the album credits — they’re David’s and Peter’s young children. In press materials, the Brewises explain that fatherhood has helped inspire a new sense of personal and political accountability in their music. Open Here is too nuanced and complex to be called a kids’ record, but coming from a band whose work has often been clouded by emotional and lyrical ambiguity, it’s remarkably straight~ahead. This album bears the earnest directness of artists whose sense of the world has been nudged into focus in a new way.
?♣? The brothers’ experiences of fatherhood go hand~in~hand with a heightened attention to global politics, brought on, in part, by the unflattering spotlight cast on their hometown of Sunderland, England, the first city to vote in favor of Brexit. They reckon with the inexplicable things they will have to explain to their children, and inveigh against those who promote hatred and fear in the world in which they’re growing up. On “Goodbye to the Country,” one of the brothers sings from what sounds like a misunderstood outsider’s perspective in a xenophobic town (“Don’t you worry, I will be fine/With a knife at my neck and my very last dime”). “Checking on a Message” is deceptively peppy for a song about waiting up for news — election results, perhaps — that’s sure to be bad. “Count It Up,” on which the duo catalog several varieties of privilege (“the ever~growing list of things you can’t claim all the credit for”), has perhaps the most direct link to Brexit: David Brewis has said he wrote the song to voice frustration with his compatriots’ failure to see or think beyond themselves.
?♣? Writing songs about privilege is a tricky business. A song like “Count It Up,” released in 2018 by a pair of white guys with no notable background in social justice, could read to some as a well~meaning but clumsy effort of the newly woke, or a self~congratulatory reckoning that mistakes awareness for impact. Thinking about the Brewises’ message here with the attentive ears of their children in mind, however, makes all the difference in how “Count It Up” comes across. When the brothers sing, “If people don’t stare at you on the street because of the color of your skin/Count that up,” they’re not patting themselves on the back for having a conscience — they’re looking for the right language to talk about injustice with the young humans whose worldviews they’re tasked with shaping.
?♣? “No King No Princess” feels similar in its aim. Addressed to David’s children, it’s at once a jubilant dance party, replete with invigorating horn jabs, and an indictment of traditional gender roles. At the chorus, a pompom~toting choir swoops in with words of encouragement: “You can paint it how you want/And you can dress up how you want/And you can do the job you want/And you can do it.” I listen to this song and see the faces of young girls at last month’s Women’s March, perched on their parents’ shoulders and waving posterboard painted with girl power slogans while nearby marchers cheered them on. They might not have fully understood the context of the gathering, but they were certainly tuned into its energy and the value of their participation. Watching these girls be uplifted in real time was moving; listening to “No King No Princess” and picturing the exchange between Brewis and his children stirs up similar feelings.
?♣? Elsewhere, Open Here sets aside plenty of time for play. “Share a Pillow” may be the grooviest lullaby that ever was, inviting the restless kids to sleep in their parents’ bed with a peace offering of baritone sax riffs and sunny, layered vocal harmonies. ?♣? Opener “Time in Joy” is a frothy, blissed~out ode to companionship wrapped in cascading flutes. Throughout the album, the Brewis brothers toy with the whimsical, outsized arrangements that are their calling card while borrowing bits and pieces of prog~pop and funk, amounting to some of their most expansive and boisterous music yet. Given the state of global affairs, it sometimes feels daunting just to have to be a person, let alone a person responsible for the wellbeing of others. With Open Here, Field Music rise to the challenge with a set of newly crystallized talking points, offered up along with a glorious mess of noise. ?♣? https://pitchfork.com/
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra; Score: ****
?♣? In their long career, Field Music’s David and Peter Brewis have never put a foot wrong. Their albums have been brilliant chamber pop from start to finish, full of complicated chords, tricky playing, and sneakily emotional lyrics. Released in 2016, Commontime added something new to their long~established formula: cute ‘80s pop flourishes that made it their easiest album to dance and/or swoon to. Arriving in 2018, Open Here goes further in incorporating poppy sounds while filling the arrangements with even more flutes, strings, and horns than have been heard on a Field Music album. The brothers still have the unerring knack for crafting smart and snappy pop songs that have more twists and turns than a mountain highway and sound clearer than a fresh spring running down the side of that mountain. Working with friends and colleagues in their home studio, the brothers Brewis have never sounded quite as relaxed, or gotten quite as political. The stop~start synth pop song “Count It Up” details all the advantages middle~class white guys have had — and continue to exploit — while sounding like Art of Noise on a holiday with Sparks. Elsewhere, the brothers knock out herky~jerk rockers (“Share a Pillow”) that have some serious strut and honking horn sections; string~softened ballads (the title track) that show their prowess as arrangers; and soft rock grooves (“Daylight Saving”) that never sink into stasis thanks to the powerhouse drumming (another Field Music trademark that is in full force on Open Here). The rest of the album’s songs meet the exceedingly high Field Music standards of melody and wit, while coming off as both more condensed (thanks to the razor~sharp hooks) and more expansive (thanks to the guest vocals, extra horns, and rich arrangements). It’s the kind of album where, as one song ends, the anticipation for what the next song may bring grows and grows. It’s rare for a band so far into its career to make an album that can still surprise listeners as the group gleefully makes its way from beginning to end. Field Music are masters of that neat trick, and Open Here is no exception. It stands with their best work — some songs would no doubt end up on a greatest~hits collection — and in that regard is some of the best pop music anyone could hope to hear in 2018 or any time after.
Recenze v Rock&Popu:
★•★ Commontime je první album nových písní od sourozenců Petra a Davida Brewisových z North East (Sunderland) od alba ‘Plumb’ v roce 2012 a jejich páté album od jejich debutu v roce 2005. Hudba je překvapivě evokující. Nikdo jiný nedělá to, co Field Music., prolínání zpěvu, rytmické řazení odstupňovaných temp, lehce mimoakordické harmonie pojaté s citem, pořád na dosah populární hudby. Tam, kde ‘Plumb’ bylo plné “vignettes a segues”, Commontime oplývá něčím, co lidé mohou nazývat ‘ty správné písně’. Vždycky je tu něco, co Field Music umí dokonale: stírá jakoukoli špetku cynismu z moderní hudby a odráží ji pryč. Něco čistící, osvěžující a okouzlující, stejně jako zaplavat si v moři. Zde se jim to opět podařilo. Field Music nikdy nepředváděli nestydatou lásku k chorusům tak, jako na této desce. Neváhají je použít od první ze čtrnácti písní — ‘The Noisy Days Are Over’..., a celé toto pojetí kouzelně přivádí zpět éru Gentle Giant, XTC, Prefab Sprout, Peter Gabriel, Scritti Politti, Talking Heads, Todd Rundgren a 10cc zároveň, což je unikátní kombinace. ‘The Morning Is Waiting’ je propracovaným smyčcovým aranžmá zřejmě nejnáročnější skladbou na albu. Podezření, že se učili u XTC, sílí hned v následující ‘Indeed It Is’. Zde sice exceluje piano a vícehlasý zpěv, závěr je však šokující zvolněním tempa a kytarovými vyhrávkami v duchu Bo Hanssona. Lyricky, Peter a David i nadále těží z variability a bohatství vnitřních světů. Hudba stojí na jejich vlastních principech: stejně jako u všech výtvorů Field Music..., jemný poprašek hi–hat, neklidné kolísání xylofonu, všechno se vlní a proplétá, jako kdyby nástroje byly v rozhovoru. Když srovnám předešlé album ‘Music for Drifters’ s tímto, starší je více groovy, na novém je více avantgardy. V rámci propagačního turné ho nejblíže k nám uvidíme v březnu (Mar 18 London, Islington Assembly Hall).
★•★ Field Music (8 August 2005)
★•★ Tones Of Town (22 January 2007)
★•★ Field Music (Measure) (15 February 2010) UK No. 51
★•★ Plumb (13 February 2012) UK No. 49
★•★ Music For Drifters (soundtrack) (18 April 2015) [ltd. vinyl release] / (24 July 2015) [digital release]
★•★ Commontime (6 February 2016)
★•★ Open Here (February 2, 2018)