Field Music – Plumb

January 01, 1970


If time-signature bandits like Slint or Battles had suddenly developed a taste
for XTC, they might make an album that sounds like Field Music’s Plumb. But that formulation only covers
part of what happens on this short (35 minutes) yet bountiful album, the
British band’s fourth. There are also hooks that recall ELO or the poppier side
of Yes, high-harmony chorales that should grab Pet Sounds buffs and instrumental interludes that — if they lasted
another 10 minutes — could be dubbed “ambient house.” Plus, “A
New Town,” which credibly brings the funk.

Musically, Plumb is both rapturous and jumpy. (Drummer Peter Brewis, one of two
Brewises in Field Music’s current four-man lineup, was a founding member of the
antsy Futureheads.) The band’s impatience is expressed not only its shifting
tempos, but also in an abundance of falsetto passages. It’s as if the Brewises
(the other one’s name is David) will settle for nothing less than the highest
possible notes. The choirboy trills also serve to sweeten the band’s fed-up
sentiments: “Choosing Sides” features such lines as, “I want a better
idea of love/That it can be/Which doesn’t involve treating somebody else like

As doggedly independent as Fugazi, the brothers run their own label, and
reportedly survive on less money than they’d make in a fish-and-chip shop. One
of Plumb‘s several question-posing
titles is “Who’ll Pay the Bills?” Well, nobody in contemporary
alt-rock has the answer to that one. But give the frisky Field Music credit for
not brooding about it.

DOWNLOAD: “A New Town,”
“Choosing Sides,” “(I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing” MARK

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