Album Review Field Music - Field Music Play…

More like a gift to the listener; a frivolously bought bunch of cut price and soon to wilt garage forecourt flowers.

Covers compilations are often tawdry affairs; full of gaudy paeans, ham-fisted odes to legends bygone and truly innovative artists of yesteryear. I can happily declare, however, that Field Music - riding high on the crest of that Mercury tipped wave - navigate the potentially troublesome waters with ease and aplomb.

‘Field Music Play…’ sees the Brewis brothers following up swiftly on previous album ‘Plumb’ with a smattering of left-of-centre covers from the likes of such luminaries as John Cale, Pet Shop Boys and The Beatles (each a clear and evident influence on FM). Thus, if playfulness is the topic, it is home territory for Field Music - a band themselves renowned for experimentation within the constraints of pop.

Their version of Syd Barrett’s ‘Terrapin’ opens the record and for the large part (with the notable exception of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Suzanne’) it maintains a carefree attitude of well selected semi-obscure songs married with FM’s idiosyncratic pomp. ‘Born Again Cretin’ (Robert Wyatt) and ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ (from The Beatles’ ‘White Album’) are both very solid, modern yet timeless efforts and understandable selections of oddball pop well worth highlighting. But it is when tackling Pet Shop Boys’ ‘Heart’ and ‘Rent’ that Pete and David channel their inner 1897 diva and really come into their own, complete with heartstring tugging harmonies and key stabs.

At eight tracks in just under 30 minutes, it’s not a self-indulgent venture. The result is a tight, neat little package of postcard pop, as radio-friendly as ever, embossed with Field Music’s auteur sound. As the brothers themselves admit, ‘Play…’ is not a full-scale Field Music reinterpretation and as such it feels like there’s a slight lack of punch and attitude present that is present in ‘Plumb’, ‘Tones Of Town’ and their eponymous debut album. Apparent from the outset this is not a Field Music ‘project’ inasmuch, ‘Play…’ plays and sounds more like a gift to the listener (In fact, some of the covers have been available in other forms in the past; as obscure B-sides or as limited-edition vinyl releases); a frivolously bought bunch of cut price and soon to wilt garage forecourt flowers.

That is not to say any criticism can be laid squarely at the feet of the lads. In a year that has seen their release of ‘Plumb’ hit with widespread critical acclaim, ‘Field Music Play…’ can only be considered as an afterthought. Albeit a very generous and well executed one: Inventive, well worth a listen and never try-hard; just maybe an addition for the fully fledged members of the Field Music fan club.


Tags: Field Music, Album Reviews, Reviews

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