“Just like everybody else” sings one of the Brewis brothers on Field Music‘s fourth LP ‘Plumb’. Rather disingenuously because, indubitably, Field Music are NOT anything like anyone else.
And it’s almost because of that that I almost gave up on ‘Plumb’ halfway through the first listen. Picking up where predecessor LP ‘Measure’ left off, the early songs on ‘Plumb’ are disorientating. Indeed the first song appears to shift time signatures, melodies and instrumentation half a dozen times in its duration.
In actual fact, the “first song” turns out to be 3 songs run together into one “suite” but I would contend that the observation remains valid whether one song or three. The experience feels like an exercise in cleverness rather than in presenting cohesive songs.
As with the second half of ‘Measure’ there’s also more than a few echoes of overblown prog pop such as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ with the multi-tracked falsettos and pianos. Not many, to be fair, but it sometimes feels like Field Music are seeing just how far they can head into this territory and get away with it.
Things do get more focussed later on and my initial impression that this problem spans the entire record is misplaced. But whilst the songs in the second half of the record follow more recognisable arrangements and there is undoubtedly an unmistakeable Field Music-ness to the tunes, it’s ridiculously diverse and a record that I find difficult to get involved with.
‘Plumb’ is not entirely without its merits, the closing track (and first single) ‘(I Keep Thing About) A New Thing’ recalls former glories whilst ‘Guillotine’ is a slinky take on quiet/loud.
It feels counter intuitive to decry a record for too MUCH imagination but that’s my problem with ‘Plumb’. It’s by no means terrible, indeed there’s certainly a market for this sort of quirky English pop, but it’s not for me. A disappointment.