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« DIRTY THREE - Toward The Low Sun | Main | KRONOS QUARTET - Music of Vladimir Martynov »
Thursday
Mar012012

FIELD MUSIC - Plumb

Considering that their last effort—the superb Measure—was this writer's fave album of two years ago, I'm more than a little excited by the Sunderland band's latest arrival. Often, it is this type of setup that leads to a burst bubble or two, and it needs to be said: that Plumb doesn't quite, well, measure up to its predecessor. Much of this, however, has to do with pure numbers.

Even though it was a little under the radar, Measure was a behemoth 20-song, 80-minute album, towering over not only the rest of the band's catalogue, but many other records of its ilk at the time. This grand, proggy ambition was stunningly tempered by the fact that it was peppered with song after song of memorable melody and lithe, spiky riffs. Plumb is half Measure's overall length—in effect, it's that record compressed—but has only five less songs. Quick math tells you something has to give. In this case, it's the way that Plumb 's tiny songs refuse to settle on any one tack for long.

So whether it's an a capella section ("How Many More Times?"), a jittery bout of tom-tom driven rock ("It's Okay To Change"), or a slice of chamber pop ("Sorry Again, Mate"), if you blink, you'll often miss it. Of course, the funny thing about Field Music (and what ultimately saves them) is that for all of their restlessness and the rapidity with which they apply and then dispense with their ideas, they're a very beautifully nuanced and classic British pop band. From XTC and The Jam to The Stranglers and Orange Juice (and more than a little bit of Yes), the UK's tuneful musical DNA is always with these guys. Underneath all of Plumb's constant shapeshifting, there is a songcraft that rewards one's trust. 

And if it's a bit ironic that it's the double album that is the more immediately accessible of their past two, that's just part of the beauty of Field Music—a band that plays from pop's great songbook as it eagerly rips it up.

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