Following on from the release of 2018’s Open Here, one of this writer’s albums of the year, Field Music will be bringing something special to the Imperial War Museum North (IWM North) on the 24 January. Forming part of Imperial War Museum’s Making A New World season, Field Music will be contributing an immersive live performance inspired by IWM’s graphic record of the final days of the First World War. Field Music has put together an original piece of music to be performed live with original animation that captures their response to this archival record.
As song-writers, Field Music’s Peter and David Brewis (brothers) have always been socially conscious and engaged in believing a better world is possible; a sentiment undoubtedly shared by the people of 1918. This is no clearer than on Open Here. Don’t let Field Music’s peppy vibe fool you, the album is a reflection of our torrid times and certainly makes you wonder how much has the world learned from our shared history? We’re living through chaotic times. I know it, you know it and the Brewis brothers certainly know it.
The subject matter on the album straddles nationalism, Brexit and laments the current democratic situation. Yet, the band never ceases to sound optimistic, even if the lyrical content often says otherwise. It isn’t always so, as many of the album tracks embody a remarkable positivity. ‘No King No Princess’ is an impossibly funky ode to encouraging your children to be who they want to be, inspired by the brothers’ recent transitions into fatherhood. The album is bookended by ‘Time In Joy’, a song that celebrates the joy that can be found with loved ones in tough times, and the beautifully uplifting ‘Find A Way To Keep Me’; optimism in times of despair.
This continues the tradition of Field Music’s propensity to face social issues head-on whilst maintaining an optimistic, encouraging sound. Their oeuvre often doesn’t sound like what the songs are about. Every album obfuscates societal angst behind rousing harmonies, sweeping horns, angular guitars and a never ending well of pep. Their work has shades of Steely Dan, Prefab Sprout, The Beatles, David Bowie and Talking Heads but even though you can hear these titans, their music never feels like pastiche. The influence is there but is never trite. All six of their albums showcase deft song-writing and a range of musical knowledge that makes Field Music one of the most original, thought provoking and uplifting bands of today. Plumb will forever be on my top albums list.
With all this in mind, there’s no better fit of a band to artistically celebrate 100 years since the end of one of humanity’s darkest periods and the beginning of a more optimistic time. This isn’t your average band. This isn’t your average show. Not to be missed.