Comprised of its creative masterminds, sibling duo Peter and David Brewis, along with the contributions of Kev Dosdale, Andrew Lowther, Ian Black, Liz Corney, Andrew Moore, Damo Waters and a rotating casts of collaborators, the Sunderland, UK-based duo Field Music have developed an internationally acclaimed reputation for a sound comprised of interwoven vocals, slightly off chords and chord changes, a slightly off-kilter yet approachable experimental pop sensibility — and for material based around incredibly catchy choruses.
Field Music has been on a bit of a hiatus as the Brewis brothers were busy with a variety of side projects but they were inevitably drawn back to working together on their own songs. As David Brewis explained in press notes, “As much fun as we might have had on our own or collaborating, we missed just spending time in the studio, the two of us, trying things out and playing together.”
, the first Field Music album in several years was written and recorded over spontaneous bursts over a six month period in their Wearside, UK
-based studio with material based around the Brewis brothers playing and singing but featuring contributions from original keyboardist Andrew Moore, Peter Brewis’ wife Jennie Brewis, vocals from the newest member of the touring band, Liz Corney and a variety of other collaborators. “We wanted to embrace being a duo, and perversely, that made us feel more comfortable about all of those conspicuous cameos,” David Brewis notes.
Interestingly, the album’s material is reportedly based around the passing of time — acquaintances coming and going, friendships drifting and diffusing over time, random snippets of the every day and real-life conversations being replayed. In fact, Commontime’s first single “The Noisy Days Are Over,” is based on a conversation between two friends who are struggling to say goodbye to their boozy, hard-partying youthful days. At some point both friends wonder if it’s time to just “get in bed like everyone else.” Sonically, the song pairs funky guitar chords, propulsive percussion, dramatic keyboard chords and the Brewis brothers’ ironic yet wistful vocals with warm and soulful blasts of saxophone and strings in a song that reminds me both of Superhuman Happiness
‘ Escape Velocity
(in particular, I think of “Drawing Lines
” and “Super 8
“) and of Talking Heads
as all three are eccentric and expansive visions o what you can do with pop — while being approachable.
The recently released music video follows a man, who appears to be in his 40s and everywhere he goes he sees the members of Field Music reminding him that his hard-partying days are coming to a close. And in a culture that focuses so much on youth, it brings up a key question: how does one remain cool with dignity? Is such a thing possible? Or is it all completely pointless?
The first song to be taken from the album is ‘The Noisy Days Are Over’, an insistent, sax-punctuated groove and a conversation between two friends struggling to say farewell to the bad old boozy days, when they should “get to bed like everyone else”.
The space that Field Music vacated in those four years still appears to be empty. No one else really does what Field Music do: the interweaving vocals, the rhythmic gear changes, the slightly off-chords, but with the sensibility that keeps them within touching distance of pop music. But with Commontime, Field Music show off their unashamed love of choruses in a way they’ve only hinted at before.
Written and recorded in spontaneous bursts over six months in their Wearside studio, Commontime is built around the brothers playing and singing together again, but also features a wider array of players, including original Field Music keyboardist Andrew Moore, Peter’s wife Jennie Brewis and new member of the live band Liz Corney on vocals, plus a panoply of other players.
“We wanted to embrace being a duo and, perversely, that made us feel more comfortable about all of those conspicuous cameos” reveals David. Over the fourteen songs of Commontime, real life conversations are replayed, acquaintances come and go, hard won friendships are left to drift and diffuse snap shots of the everyday are pulled together into what must rank amongst Field Music’s best
works to date.