Breaking up is hard to do, unless you’re Sam Coomes. Sam used to play in Heatmiser with [a]Elliott Smith[/a], 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, [I]”You worship the future like it’s some kind of saint/But it’s just like the past with a new coat of paint”[/I] 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.
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.