On Field Music's Measure, disc two exceeds disc one by leaps and bounds

Naturally, when there are two “sides” to an album, I listen to it in the order it’s given to me. Like an album is supposed to be listened to. I was plenty excited to hear Field Music’s newest (larger than) full-length as Tones of Town and Field Music were past favorites and I thought when they went on hiatus they were done for good. But in an entirely unexpected foray into new territory, Field Music strayed from their usual sunny pop on disc one to something not so sunny and pretty damn boring. So, you can imagine my disappointment upon first hearing Field Music’s new “two disc”, double album, Measure. My heart dropped and I wondered why? WHY? (WHY am I whining?? And in caps no less!). However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Disc two more than made up for the shortcomings of disc one and reminded me why I fell in love with the UK boys in the first place.

Disc one is clearly influenced by classic rock (and even some modern acts…think Spoon) with some experimentation thrown in, and the thing is, the tracks aren’t bad as stand-alones; they each have some merit. However, as ten songs in a row of the same thing, with a bunch of crashing percussion, heavy guitar and nothing particularly unique, the tracks can bleed into each other and sound fairly monotonous. This was not the Field Music that plied their trade in making crisp, orchestral pop (unsurprisingly, the teaser track, “Measure”, was the only song on disc one to fit that mold). Disc one is a darker Field Music, and the consistency throughout is actually more hurtful than not. After one listen I’m way more than ready to move on. This should not be the case with an album, you know? I don’t want to give it all a bad name, though; songs I enjoy include “Clear Water” (with a funky guitar line and fun harmonies to go with varying percussion) and “Them That Do Nothing” (uh, bluegrassy-ish in spurts?).

Disc two, however? Entirely different story. Back to the Field Music of old (yay), with an even bigger sound. That means Lee = happy. Keys, strings, harmonies, totally British, totally awesome. The first (11th total, at this point) track, “The Rest Is Noise” (which almost sounds like a Broadway song, in a good way) makes it clear to the listener that the guys are back, and ready to lose the experimental sound from disc one. The disc masterfully continues with some piano-led pop and high harmonies galore (not only vocally – the guitars are elegantly layered). Employing much more of an acoustic sound and an emphasis on string-work and vocals, disc two is Field Music at their finest.

If only they stuck with the second half of the album. We don’t need 20 songs, and we certainly don’t need a different kind of Field Music.

Field Music – “Clear Water” (disc one) [MP3]

Field Music – “The Rest Is Noise” (disc two) [MP3]

Purchase Measure | Field Music on MySpace

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