Choosing which side of the plumb-line

My internal jury is still out on Field Music‘s new album, Plumb, but I can confirm it contains at least moments of brilliance. Presenting my first pieces of evidence: “A New Town” and “Choosing Sides“, which come in a third of the way through what is an extremely economical but fidgety LP (preview the whole thing here, thanks to NPR Music).

“A New Town” presents with us the band at its most complex. Following a reedy organ intro which sounds like the less disconsolate brother of Radiohead’s “Motion Picture Soundtrack“, we get two rhythm tracks which are panned to the extreme; periodically, watery bubbles stream between the channels. The guitar-work veers between The Durutti Column-style intricacy and St. Vincent’s chunky shredding. There are so many layers it’s a wonder the song doesn’t implode.

Betraying the Brewis brothers’ love of proggy synth-work, “Choosing Sides” begins with a lilting, hey-nonny-no keyboard-driven passage, which then leads into the song proper. There are acoustic guitars redolent of prime-time Fleetwood Mac, the drums are crisp and intricate, and the vocal harmonies are as distinguished as ever. And then, before you get too comfortable, in the final minute there is a sudden change of time signature and the song does a volte face.

But I have a lingering feeling that the throwback-feel of Plumb, with its numerous shifts in mood and style, might not sit so well with me, in aggregate, as the pastoral-concept double album of Field Music (Measure).


Plumb is released on 13th February 2012 (UK) and 14th February (US), on Memphis Industries.

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