Your correspondent has spent much of 2012 telling anyone who will listen about how devastatingly good Field Music’s Plumb is (see?), and it remains my favourite album of the year. Sheer staggering invention. They missed out on the Mercury, but that means nothing: all it has helped to do is get their name out there, and hopefully will encourage people to seek out their rich back catalogue as well.
Picking a favourite track wasn’t easy, but I Keep Thinking About A New Thing just edges ahead. It’s an intro with intent, giving way to a sort of steady funk (Field Music know basslines), topped with that circling, oddly hypnotic guitar. It’s optimistic, yet there’s something strangely downbeat, talking themselves into new possibilities, perhaps. Then, second verse, piano, percussion and a gorgeous breakdown all chime in, adding layer upon layer. On the face of it, it’s a simple pop song, and it sound be enjoyed as such, but getting it this right certainly can’t be easy, and the fact that Field Music do it so often shows what an exceptional band they are. For proof, see the delivery of “played so dumb I can’t bear to look”: the way the voice slides over the notes is shivers down the spine, aural swoon-inducingly perfect
Every so often, an album pops up which both restores faith in just how good music can be and is jaw-droppingly inventive at the same time. Released earlier this year, Field Music’s forth effort Plumb is one such album.
Field Music can loosely be called indie, but their approach to constructing songs (for it’s construction rather than writing) is almost classical. Each song on Plumb is part of a whole, one movement flowing into the next (and often several tempos, themes and keys in one song), although each track works equally well in isolation. This has been hinted at in the past both on Field Music albums and on Sea From Shore, the album from David Brewis’s side project School of Language which included four versions of Rockist (and Disappointment #99, which doesn’t really prove my point but is such a brilliant slice of wonky guitar pop that it had to be included), but Plumb sees this technique employed masterfully. Somehow, it makes perfect sense that the sparkling riff of A New Town feeds into the odd squelching at the beginning of Choosing Sides, and somehow it makes sense that Choosing Sides features the most heartfelt melodic three-syllable ‘sit’ you’re ever likely to hear. It’s a perfect forty minutes of bubbling creativity, and the fact that addictive I Keep Thinking About A New Thing is the last track on the album speaks for itself: it’s an album that demands attention from start to finish, and it should be gladly given.