Despite having a moniker that’d easily bag a podium spot in a ‘dullest band name in the world’ competition against the likes of Keith, The Music and Ride, Sunderland collective Field Music were superb; a minor sensation who ‘did a Cantona’ last year by going on hiatus after peaking with second album ‘Tones Of Town’. It was a decision based less on the fact that they failed to follow former collaborators and fellow north-easterners Maximo Park and The Futureheads into the indie Super League and more because the one band simply wasn’t big enough for the ambitions of its members, whose heads were spurting at the seams, bulk-packed with ideas and a buzzing desire to execute them. So, while core member David Brewis immediately made a cut’n’paste barrel of chattery rock as School Of Language, his brother Peter now releases a solo effort as The Week That Was. It’s one of the oddest beauties of the year so far.
Field Music always stayed within a milkman’s whistling distance of melody, so maybe that’s why Brewis has built his thumpy, string’n’piano-laden compositions from the soil upwards, painting layers of ‘Ashes To Ashes’-dusted synth creeps, Kate Bush ivory-punch dramatics and Sufjan Stevens-esque string-dives rather than banging out a lick on the acoustic and going from there. There’s no machine-gun fire of terrace singalongs; instead, he favours a deft, sometimes dark world that reveals more colour with every listen, like a peacock slowly unveiling its plumage. That’s not to say Brewis has made something penetrable only to those who can tolerate a Mars Volta gig without a fold-out chair. Although we’re not exactly dealing with anything along the lines of eight ‘Chelsea Dagger’s here, TWTW’s beauty is obvious when it first hits your ear – notably on should-be hit ‘The Airport Line’ and the TV On The Radio-siphoning opener ‘Learn To Learn’.
Adding to the lapel-grabbiness is the fact that it’s an album led by the drums, with Roxy Music-shorn snare echoes walloping through the album’s 33 minutes like the way a heartbeat thumps through a body from hair-end to toenail. And it always sounds urgent, while Brewis’ questioning vocal – pitched near Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes’ pleasingly nasal croon – adds further gravitas. So, don’t mourn the death of Field Music. Firstly, because, er, most of their number actually play on this album anyway. But more importantly because their demise has allowed Peter Brewis to open up his genius head and make one of the curveball LPs of the summer.