Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tones of Town by Field Music

I don't think anyone really expected much from Field Music, leawst of all the members of Field Music. It all seemed like an innocent collaboration between members of Maximo Park and The Futureheads, with no aspirations of world conquest or end-of-year best-of lists. But from the first beat of their self-titled debut in 2005 to the last note of the heart-stoppingly gorgeous 'You're so Pretty', that expectation was dashed as they made one of the highlights of the year.

So, in the face of renewed expectations and the notion of Field Music being a band in its own right, rather than the ubiquitous side project, how does Tones of Town stack up? Pretty darn well. I say darn as any form of foul language being used in association with Tones of Town seems out of place. Field Music have made that most wonderful of anachronisms, a good Beatles-esque pop album. That particular adjective gets tossed around a little bit too much, but it may well be appropriate, with the record recalling those oh-so English moments from Sgt Peppers or Abbey Road, when a Liverpudlian accent seemed to encapsulate all that was beautiful and nostalgic about 1950s England. Even on the cover art, the band members are pictured holding an old microphone recording machine dating from at least then.

That's not to say that Tones of Town is not very much a product of the here and now; even as instrumentation is determinedly old-fashioned, songs are kept tight and taut in a way Messrs Lennon, McCartney and Harrison often failed to see the beauty of. Not a note is wasted, no harmony overused (witness beautiful littly opening ditty - ditty seems like a more appropriate word than song here, and that's a compliment - 'Give It Lose It Take It') as strings wash in and out without overstaying there welcome. Percussion jumps around with xylophone cameos and little keyboard flourishes, all the while making the listener feel like a cup of tea and his slippers while waiting for the local marching band to appear around the corner.

Field Music may well slip under the radar this year, but if you're into music that suffers adjectives like 'sparkling' and 'jangly' then this is very much the record for you.

4 stars

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