Political turbulence, new parenthood and an eviction notice all helped catalyse Field Music's 'Open Here'; a soundtrack to the all-too sudden realisation that the world you thought you knew might not make so much sense after all. It’s been a rollercoaster two years since the Brewis brothers’ previous LP 'Commontime', both personally and on a global scale. They were made to leave their riverside studio in Sunderland during 'Open Here’s production; a literal upheaval that’s allegorical, in a sense, for its urgent socio-political themes. Vocalist David also welcomed his second child into the world. As such, the record’s finest moments scold the state of things as a parent would a toddler who should by now know better.
One of these moments is opener ‘Time In Joy’; an effervescent slice of progressive pop bolstered by deft flute and piccolo playing by Sarah Hayes, and the regular string quartet of Ed Cross, Jo Montgomery, Chrissie Slater and Ele Leckie. Next, on the stripped back Talking Heads evocation that is ‘Count It Up’, David Brewis outright demands we take stock of our privileges when he yells “if your body makes some kind of sense to you, count it up, then use the breath you have left to say something that matters!” Any parent would do well to tell this to a kid.
But, the band seem to also have anxieties about introducing someone to a world as fickle and shallow as ours. Occasionally, this desperation shines through and they have no choice but to contemplate the sadder parts of lived experience. On ‘Front Of House’ they bid farewell to a dearly departed friend, and on 'Daylight Saving' they respectfully lament how little time there is to be a couple when a child enters the equation. They put it best when they say “The time to waste together, let’s not say it’s lost, let’s just trade it in and we might get it back again”.
For the most part though, 'Open Here' is a defiant and impassioned statement in which Field Music prove they have mastered the art of addressing the political and the personal simultaneously. It’s fun, it’s loud, it’s dense. It’s not content with wallowing in the state of things and wants to inspire positive change. As a record, it represents a scaling up of the prosaic to the size of an all-encompassing statement applicable to, well, both politics and people.
Words: Sean Harper
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