The second solo album from Field Music's David Brewis is equal parts sleek and endearingly shonky
For his second LP as School Of Language, Field Music’s David Brewis elected to draw from experience – specifically the painful, awkward ones of his late teens and early twenties. Nothing particularly surprising there, you might say: who didn’t feel like a knot of anxieties, insecurities and poorly affected pretensions at that age? Caught between the real world and the cocoon of adolescence, you’re not quite what you were, but not yet what you’ll become. We all deal with it in different ways, but Brewis’ mechanisms are more austere than most. Opener ‘Distance Between’ details an awkward romance where “Wherever we are, however much we share, I feel the distance growing more”, while ‘A Smile Cracks’ finds him sitting on a beach on his birthday, head buried in a textbook, “Watching people have fun/My only language was in my head/Just another teenage affectation”. If only someone had told him it was pound-a-pint night at the student union.
However Brewis occupied himself in those formative years, you can’t imagine him grooving to the sounds of N.E.R.D. or Justin Timberlake, yet that’s what the best bits of ‘Old Fears’ frequently put you in mind of. Picking up where Field Music’s ‘A New Town’ (the standout track from 2012’s ‘Plumb’) left off, the likes of ‘Dress Up’ and ‘Between The Suburbs’ are in that same DIY-R&B vein, equal parts sleek and endearingly shonky. In fact, were it not so tethered to Brewis’ own growing pains, much of ‘Old Fears’ could pass for a Field Music album, and a pretty good one at that. Certainly, that same sense of left-field inventiveness and ingenuity is present here, from the diminutive ’So Much Time’ being overpowered by its booming, early-MTV drums, or the way ‘Suits Us Better’ bizarrely (yet successfully) incorporates what can only be described as Rolf Harris-esque beat-boxing.
With Field Music having finally achieved some measure of the recognition they’ve always deserved, it hopefully won’t be too long until the Brewis brothers reunite; until then, however, ‘Old Fears’ provides a fascinating insight into the mind of an increasingly-indispensable pop polymath.