Field Music – Commontime (4 stars)

Field Music – Commontime

(Memphis Industries)

Indie popsters are still here, and thank god for that

You might be forgiven for asking, if you were the sort of person who asks these questions: whatever happened to Field Music? We get an answer from songwriter Peter Brewis on the opening track of new album Commontime. Yeah, he says, with a sardonic lilt. Yeah, we’re still here, and still making records worth listening to.

Commontime turns out to be a surprising record for a couple of reasons. Firstly, given Field Music’s status among those bands that graduated from the guitar indie heyday of the mid noughties as a shy, nerdy lot who preferred trainspotting to the girl three doors down, it’s a pleasant surprise to hear them producing something so relevant in 2016.

Secondly, given their membership of that long-lost cohort, it’s surprising to find that the new record is initially free of guitars. There’s barely a twang until fourth track ‘I'm Glad’, the math-rock number that seems placed to remind us that this is actually a Field Music record. Before that, and indeed after, Commontime sees the Brewis brothers return to the influences fished out of 1970s and 1980s back catalogues that first turned up on 2012’s Plumb.

‘Trouble at the Lights’ contains a proper guitar breakdown reminiscent of Wings-era McCartney, ‘But Not For You’ sounds like post-glam Bowie and album opener ‘The Noisy Days Are Over’ has all the funk and irony you'd expect from Talking Heads. Plundering the hits of the past whilst avoiding mere pastiche takes guts (as does recording a 14-track record, a species almost as critically endangered as the concept album). And though that confidence is masked by Field Music’s trademark harmonies and melodic complexities, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Commontime properly, unashamedly rocks.

Out Fri 5 Feb, on Memphis Industries

Field Music

Innovative Sunderland group return with more effortlessly complex indie pop.

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