With the release of their sixth album proper, Open Here, Field Music have firmly established themselves as mainstays of the dermis of UK music, IE where all the interesting stuff happens! For those already familiar with their output, then you’ll know what to expect – For newcomers, then this, an album as strong and worthy as any of its predecessors, is as good a starting point as any.
Ever-present are the sweet harmonies and fractured vocal arrangements delivered in their signature Wearside enunciation, primitive drums and percussion, rubbery basslines and wobbly synths, bound together by the masterful songwriting of the Brothers Brewis. Always ones to let the music do the talking, ever calculated and never arbitrary, their asperous style is both eloquent and idiosyncratic, like 10CC through the lens of Tortoise and their ilk.
Whereas their previous album, 2016’s Common time, was a stripped down affair, relying heavily on garage-funk grooves and succinct arrangements, Open Here is its antithesis, with more focused use of string and brass arrangements, interweaving lead and counter melodies a generally bigger sound and a tendency to veer between easy listening and not-easy-at-all listening and. Recent live outings have reflected this, with a dozen or more musicians on stage rather than the standard four piece they have presented in the past.
Having always made a virtue of keeping things interesting whilst retaining pop sensibilities, this is a notably more mature effort – Lead track Count It Up is a rare example of an overtly political statement piece, with a message of ‘You don’t even know how lucky you are – think about it!’ but without the smug middle-class delivery that manages to rub us up the wrong way, when in the wrong hands!
One day, the world will wake up and realise the greatness of Field Music, or at least, in a just world, that would be the case. In the meantime, they’ve just added another volume to their ever-growing encyclopedia, and it’s as fresh and relevant as anything they’ve done.
Available in some beautiful formats, including clear or blue vinyl, Open Here is out now on Memphis Industries.