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Field Studies

Breaking up is hard to do, unless you're [B]Sam Coomes[/B]....

Field Studies

8 / 10 Breaking up is hard to do, unless you're Sam Coomes. Sam used to play in Heatmiser with Elliott Smith, until the band split. Now Elliott plays guest-star bass for Quasi. Sam's marriage to Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss ended in divorce. Now she's his other half in Quasi - the clamorous rhythm section underpinning his lurchy keyboards and guitar.

Juxtaposing despondent lyrics with jaunty tunes, Quasi's songs are blighted with sorrow like poisoned nursery rhymes. As when Coomes sighs, "You worship the future like it's some kind of saint/But it's just like the past with a new coat of paint" in 'All The Same', his observations are stark, unresolvable and truthful. Yet they are also imbued with a sly, knowing humour. And as they coast through life's litany of let-downs, it's as though Quasi are above it all, laughing.

/img/Quasi999.jpg Like their first album, 'Featuring 'Birds'', 'Field Studies' features a song called 'Birds'. It has the same sumptuous harmonies, and a similar jerky gait. But the minimalist keyboard and drums that propelled that LP have now been augmented by strings, church organ, Theremin and esoteric electronica, giving the songs a more variegated topography.

If the future's just the past with a new slick of emulsion, Coomes has done a fine job of filling in the cracks. The product of fissured relationships? You'd never know it. 'Field Studies' is seamless.

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