Field Music – Plumb: Round 27, Nick’s choice

I’ve been thinking about bringing Plumb for ages, as I know Tom is keen to hear it, and it’s probably my favourite new record so far this year (Orbital, Grimes, and potentially Richard Hawley being close behind). It’s also, at only 35 minutes, a good length for DRC, both in terms of not making for too long an evening and also in terms of holding attention.

I wrote about it (surprise surprise) at some length on my blog a few weeks ago so I’m wary of repeating myself too much here. I will say that it’s holding its appeal for me very well even after many, many plays. I think, in part, this is down to the winding, twisting nature of the songwriting – 15 songs in 35 minutes suggests that there area lot of ideas here, but several songs change directions unexpectedly even within their own internal architecture, meaning they always sound fresh.

I was asked if I’d liked Plumb straight away; I did, but there are caveats. A big part of the initial liking was the fact that I knew (and adored) the two singles, which are the 4th track and the 15th, meaning I had big beacons to look forward to, orient me, and recognise. Plumb’s also amazingly well recorded and mixed (especially the drums), meaning it was a distinct physical / sensual pleasure to listen to right from the off, even before I had any idea of how the songs themselves were going to twist and turn. It definitely took me several listens before I had any kind of mental roadmap of where the songs were going, although a handful of individual tunes (Just Like Everyone Else, Guillotine, Choosing Sides, Is This The Picture?) embedded themselves in my head as handy landmarks from pretty much the first listen.

There’s a real idealism and heart to Plumb that I find compelling, but its tempered by a sense of down-to-earth realism. The music may be proggy at times (albeit compressed and taut, and never indulgent like some may assume) but the lyrics are more Mike Leigh – “can I afford another day on my own / sat in the kitchen with the radio on?”, and “I want a different idea of what better can be / that doesn’t involve treating somebody else like shit.” On so many levels, the Brewis brothers seem to have their heads screwed on right, seem like decent human beings. And their music is splendid.

Tom Listened: Well, I was keen to hear Plumb and it didn’t disappoint as far as I am concerned. Reminiscent of a more polite and much less unhinged A Wizard a True Star, Plumb is pretty much all over the place both between and within songs but I found it entrancing and intriguing and, as Nick has hinted, spontaneous and un-calculated (I’m sure this isn’t actually the case, but it sounds like it is). I can see much to explore on this album and I can see myself getting this, and other Field Music albums, in the near future…as I haven’t just bought a new house and have money to burn!

Rob listened: This wasn’t the first time i’ve heard ‘Plumb’ but it was the first time i’ve given it due care and attention. I like what i’ve heard of Field Music, their music and what they say when they’re asked about it. ‘Plumb’ sounded like the sort of record that would steadily develop into a compelling musical narrative the more one listened to it. On first proper listen, a couple of the tracks had real grip, probably enough to bring me back to the album sufficiently for it to ensnare me. I must, however, take issue with the suggestion of spontaneity. ‘Plumb’s prog stylings sound explicitly calculated to me. In fact, I can’t imagine how a record like this could come together at all without being choreographed to within an inch of its life.

Graham listened: Another one where references and inspirations overtook simply listening to it on its merits. Having owned a good deal of ‘prog’ in my time (which is a little longer than other members) I found this a strange listen as just as I was getting in to it I would find myself thinking I was listening to bits of early 70’s Genesis. For those who have not exposed themselves to such listening (lucky buggars)  then Plumb might tick all the boxes, but not something that grabbed me.

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