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Slug: Ripe

Thrilling, uneasy listening from former Field Music man Ian Black.

This low-profile malarkey isn’t going too well for Sunderland’s Brewis Brothers-on-a-break, aka Field Music.

Peter Brewis’ excellent collaboration with Paul Smith (Maxïmo Park) breezed around the UK on a December mini tour, and it was during a chinwag after their London show that brother David talked of their participation in a “weird, krauty thing” called Slug, fronted by their former bassist Ian Black. A few weeks later, Ripe arrived at Prog Towers and the first play on our stereo revealed a highly polished but disquieting kind of alt-pop. At its best it comes across like the mutant lovechild of Sparks and XTC, aptly described by some of their titles (Cockeyed Rabbit Wrapped In Plastic, _Kill _Your Darlings). Well, happy Valentine’s Day to you too, Slug! Catching them live a few days later, their ‘cosmic barbershop’ waistcoats-and-bow tie look offset the slick post-punk disco of Greasy Mind and the bass-no-treble shimmy of Running To Get Past Your Heart, and brought Black’s humour to the fore. Ripe was put back on the stereo, layers of finely-crafted uneasy listening now stripped back, but with a chilling finale in At Least Show You Care. Strange – and thrilling – fruit, indeed.