Album Review School Of Language - Old Fears

Equal parts lithe, slinky and effortlessly cool, tailor made for sashaying down a sunny boulevard in a white suit and loafers.

Ever since Field Music’s debut record hit the shelves just shy of ten years ago, Sunderland siblings David and Peter Brewis have consistently marked themselves out as a pair of songwriters able to not only write astonishingly clever compositions but also do so while avoiding the pitfall that individualistic, intelligent writing can often fall into of keeping the audience at arm’s length and permeating a detached air.

Not content with having an enviable back catalogue as a working partnership – culminating in 2011 Mercury nominated ‘Plumb’ – the pair have also deployed their many skills to their own solo endeavours; Peter via the sweeping, elegant solitary The Week That Was record, David the more muscular first School Of Language equivalent, built around the 4-part ‘Rockist’ mini-suite. But for second offering ‘Old Fears’ D. Brewis Esq has presented something a bit different. At the height of its pomp it’s a record which is equal parts lithe, slinky and effortlessly cool, tailor made for sashaying down a sunny boulevard in a white suit and loafers. It’s a trait never clearer than in the record’s early stages, via the one-two opening punch of the funky, purposeful ‘Distance Between’ and the unshakeable cocksure swagger of ‘A Smile Cracks’. Elsewhere there’s the irresistible ‘Between The Suburbs’, sounding like Prince covering Human League’s ‘Do Or Die’, and the irrepressibly sunny, shimmering ‘Dress Up’.

But just in case you begin to think it’s all about block-rocking beats and Miami Vice vibes, the record throws in some more reflective moments, pulled off with all the effectiveness and panache of the album’s more upbeat counterpoints. While the understated and expertly-crafted ‘Suits Us Better’ could easily sit on Jens Lekman’s masterful ‘Night Falls On Kortedala’ without a stretch of the imagination, and the nocturnal shuffle of ‘Small Words’ on one of Guy Garvey and co’s releases, they never feel contrived, instead retaining an air of individuality. In the same way that ‘Old Fears’ starts with a duo packed with confidence and ambition, so it ends with pair exuding haunting beauty in the sparse elegance of ‘So Much Time’ and ‘You Kept Yourself’.

‘Old Fears’ makes for a fascinating record, evolving gradually from start to finish and yet doing so in a way subtle enough so as to never jar nor stand out. Like being chauffeured in a luxury car, you arrive having had a thoroughly enjoyable journey along the way. Dynamic, warm, inviting and brilliantly executed, it marks out David Brewis as arguably one of the country’s more underrated talents – and to think, this is the sort of thing he and Peter make when Field Music is having a ‘quiet’ period…