Field Music – Plumb (Memphis Industries)

Another triumph from the Brewis Brothers, this time taking the thrilling prog-pop template from (Measure) and moving it in a semi-cinematic direction, like some kind of chirpy/disaffected Northern England mini-musical (in fact lads, how about getting this album on tour as a stage play with actors, a set and the band providing accompanying continuity?). So, momentary orchestral flourishes advance the plot, segues and interludes change the mood in film-cue style, field recordings of church bells and water gurgling locate the action. What’s the plot? My best guess is that it centres around the banality of everyday life, domestic strife and attempts to transcend same. The stand-out “conventional” tunes, A new town and (I keep thinking about) A new thing act as the theme tunes of the piece, conveying the core message with great brio (Is this the picture? comes a close third in its XTC spikiness, just ahead of the swooning, string-laden From hide and seek to heartache).

Grim up North? Maybe, but it’s a kind of delicious grimness, decorated with fantastic tunes (albeit mostly miniatures), and fascinating musical ideas pouring out of every orifice.

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