Field Music Field MusicPlumb
Ever since they created that impossible pop cell called Field Music in 2005, the Brewis brothers have turned out to be quite the box of surprises. They've delivered some twisted records (four so far), hard to tag and difficult to find the right time to listen to. Their music is so surreal, so multi-sensorial, so fragmented, that it's no wonder the indie kids find it hard to digest: listening to their progressive pop is unsettling. Now, tired of seeing their efforts left un-rewarded - not only by the public but also by part of the music press, who have a hard time placing them - “Plumb” is presented like some exquisite tantrum. A record that takes all those eccentricities to the highest level and with which the brothers achieve something extremely valuable: they've decided to live alone with their art and do exactly as they please.
After taking a break in order to recharge with their side projects (David in School Of Language and Peter in The Week That Was), the Brewises return to put your ears to the test with their most daring and abstract effort to date. Here they go all out over the course of 35 minutes, divided in to 15 tracks – although, in reality it’s much more than that, but they try to make them sound like one big suite. Drawing an arch of symphonic aspirations splashed with succulent arrangements, free-falling melodies and baroque harmonies - “Plumb” is, in general, more cluttered than “Measure” (which was their equivalent of “English Settlement” by XTC). The difference is that whilst “Measure” lets the tracks stretch, “Plumb” sees the two exploit their details as quickly as possible. As soon as they're done, they're on to the next one. It's precisely this anxiousness to advance to the next track that makes it unclear whether the lustrous sound the duo always dress their songs up with is beneficial or not.
Compared to the formal album that was “Measure”, it doesn't seem to matter all that much here how many tracks each brother made, or whether they've recruited a new bass player. What really catches our attention is the multi-faceted and absolutely free way Peter and David have of managing a pop orchard - pompous and versatile. Because, no matter how much they pursue their patchwork concept of recycling (there's influences from countless bands here, most of all XTC and Paul McCartney, but also The Beach Boys, Bowie and several other greats), “Plumb” has an overwhelmingly individual personality, highly seductive (if one's open to it, of course) and with the capability of letting you think you're hearing Field Music and Field Music only. At the end of the day they, and only they, are the creators and sole inhabitants of the imaginary planet they're on.
All in all, “Plumb” is so irregular and cocky, so surprising, that it sometimes becomes too dizzying. The album requires several listens: initially it can seem chaotic, but suddenly, without explanation, it all makes sense. It is then when the things that first seemed contradictory become the most beautiful parts of the record, when capricious tracks like “How Many More Times?” start to firmly stand out from more “obvious” singles like “A New Town”. It is then when one starts to realise that not liking them is almost impossible. Why, then, doesn't it get more than a “notable”? Easy: they sound like they're more preoccupied with making something they like, then with trying to conquer the listener - and that's a mistake.