Not to be confused with sensitive types and occasional shoegazers, The Field Mice, the singular Field Mouse are fully committed to staring at their footwear for their debut album. The New York outfit have certainly come a long way since their frontwoman recorded a cover of No Doubt’s ‘Just A Girl’ when she was a mere teenager.
Not that ‘A Place You Return To In A Dream’ isn’t a lively, urgent way to start though. Andrew Futral’s guitars hurtle ferociously whilst Rachel Browne’s vocals are snappy and sharp enough to never be in danger of being drowned out. A youthful and effervescent ‘Tomorrow Is Yesterday’ and the catchy as hell ‘Netsuke’ follow suit. In this genre, comparisons are inevitable and even though ‘Horizon City’ sounds a bit too close to Lush’s ‘For Love’ at first, the song soon develops into another bruising, infectious little number and the experimental ‘Happy’ even heads off into Autolux territory.
The excellent ‘Two Ships’ moves the band into moodier, atmospheric waters, complimented by Saysha’s Heinzmann’s strident bass; serving as compelling evidence that the band can cater for mature tastes as well as more immediate fare. Likewise, the introspective ‘Bright Lights’ and ‘Kids’ counter Browne’s innocent, cooing vocals with machine-made aggression and ‘Reina’ offers some anthemic fuzzy, guitar pop.
Throughout the record, there’s an well-judged contrast between effects-laden guitars, smooth keyboards and pure vocals. All of which means ‘Hold Still Life’ finds a healthy halfway house at the crossroads of shoegaze and dream pop.