Field Music: Field Music (Measure)

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Field Music 

Written By:

Aidan Williamson

11th February 2010
At 14:36 GMT

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We can probably count the number of successful double-albums on one hand, likely also after we've personally performed an inspection of an as-yet-unexploded landmine.

Two CDs, a potential running time of nearly two-hours-forty-minutes, says something along the lines of "prepare yourself for the second coming of music, for we are the Messiah (and not a very naughty boy) and your attention span be damned". None of this is actually said on the album we'll refer to as 'Measure' though, since with both CDs clocking in at just under seventy-two minutes, it's obvious that the double-album choice was an aesthetic one, as opposed to a technical one.

Such a choice serves the album well, since both CDs have their own distinct flavour. Part one serves as the raucous side of the coin, relishing the dirty, scuzzed-up guitar riffs, the more ostentatious orchestral arrangements and the more radio friendly, individual pop hits. Number two gives us a more solemn experience, reclining in its composition, flowing gently from one song to the next. So by splitting the experiences, Field Music have given us two albums: one for each different end of the mood spectrum and haven't seen the double-album format as a chance to throw caution, restraint and humility out of the window. A wise choice indeed, making redundant any argument as to which disc is better.

First single "Them That Do Nothing" is an early highlight, tying the rather fantastic couplet "we tried to stand for nothing; now there’s nothing to stand for,” into a bizarre hybrid of Dogs Die in Hot Cars and Broken Social Scene. It's a song which can niftily sidestep any compositional expectations without looking like it's trying to. If you're not in love with the lead guitar melody by the end of the song then you may as well go back to presenting the X-Factor.

Almost title-track "Measure" is worth noting also, winding staccato strings around an almost-militaristic snare drum rhythm and on top of that treating us to another stellar sporadic guitar line. Most bands would spread this much goodness over three or four songs, yet Field Music cram it all into one. There's no denying that FM are indeed a talented duo, and their anthologies of interest are liable to keep your rapt attention through both CDs (although you don't necessarily have to sit through both consecutively) when a lot of bands fail to keep interest high through a mere E.P.

As we stated before, it will come down to personal preference as to which disc you put your shoes under, but part two is certainly the more diverse creation. The extremely dynamic "Curves of the Needle" shows that the bands flair for piano-driven melody didn't die with the departure of their full-time pianist Andrew Moore. Possessing a haunting spirit, the song regularly lets itself tail off into almost silence before shaking up the formula with a stylish changeover. It may be a little stop-start for a lot of people, but it creates a tension and terror which is difficult to shake.

The only person such an assured, wonderfully flowing album will be a disappointment to is FM member David Blewis, he set out the aims for this album by saying "All of our records in the past have been very concise, quite coherent in one way or another, so from the very start we said to each other 'let's do something that's not coherent'."

Unfortunately, Measure is a carefully plotted, wonderfully edited and thematically coherent album. Fail for FM, win for everybody else.

Rating:  8 / 10

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