I’m a firm believer that the ideal length of an album should be around the thirty-five to fifty minute mark so when a well-established band releases a double album, there’s usually justification for the endeavour to be condensed to a single disc. The idea of Field Music releasing a double should hold no fears though. Between them, the prolific Peter and David Brewis have delivered six albums’ worth of largely superb material since 2005.
Right from the start, courtesy of the yearning melody of ‘In The Mirror’, the first CD takes on all the hallmarks of what has made the Brewis brothers such an inspired writing team. There’s jolly, doleful pop (‘Them That Do Nothing’), new wave (‘Effortlessly’), heartfelt “slowies” (‘Lights Up’) and the delightful string-embellished title track. Admittedly there’s a strong sense of 1970’s influences but to be compared to Wings and 10CC (two of the UK’s most imaginative singles acts) should be an honour rather than a curse. In fact, only the final ballad ‘You And I’ could be classed as ordinary.
The second CD is much more baroque and makes sense of the “progressive pop” tag the group have been bestowed with in recent times. Each track seems to shoot off in all manner of directions where pop, ambient, found sounds, prog and 1970’s rock live in harmony and sometimes all in the same song. Needless to say, structure is less important here. For two minutes, ‘Something Familiar’ settles into its XTC skin and then gradually transforms in to a moody piano ballad whilst ‘Curves Of The Needle’ resembles a ponderous Talk Talk experiment. It’s fair to say that the second CD is less easy to return to but it proves beyond doubt that Field Music are ploughing their own musical furrow.
‘Measure’ is certainly a successful return for Peter and David Brewis. Whilst the first CD celebrates the melodic genius of their past endeavours, the second may show the way forward. I just hope the latter doesn’t indicate they will be saying goodbye to the pop ideals which have been beating at the heart of all their best material.
Wings, 10CC, XTC