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Field Music – Open Here album review

Prince-endorsed prog poppers open out.

field music

Cocooned in their Sunderland studio with an eviction notice on the mantelpiece, the Brewis brothers bid farewell to their preferred location with a sparkling work which subtly opens up new roads for them to explore. Yes, it’s dominated by their major calling card of 80s-influenced art pop, as the funky guitar rhythms echo not just XTC and Tears For Fears but also less canon-approved names like Nik Kershaw and Howard Jones. Yet by its journey’s end it’s spun into a colour wheel of strings, flutes and flugelhorns which feels more Canterbury than Mackem. If 2016’s Commontime was slightly repetitive, Field Music here prove they’re a multiple trick string of ponies with Prince-like motifs and Sparks-like curls of dark comedy. Throughout the lyrics there’s a reaction to current political mayhem, the concerns of parenthood merging with the inevitable melancholy that intelligence brings. By the time the vast finale Find A Way To Keep Me arrives, almost a cousin of Big Big Train, we’ve travelled the spectrum from subversive dance to bucolic prog, the arrangements increasingly bold and voracious. Wherever they go next, they’re taking us with them.

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.