If some intrepid youths tapped into the influence of a parent’s or older sibling’s record collection whose glory days were the 1970s up to, say, ’76, the inspiration might result in a band such as Field Music. Not the entire decade’s styles, mind you, but chiefly harmony-oriented rock (Badfinger, Beach Boys, pre-disco Bee Gees), progressive (or prog) rock (Pink Floyd, Strawbs), and the rare few then that combined the two (Electric Light Orchestra, Queen, 10cc).
On its third album, the UK’s Field Music synthesizes the hallmarks of each style with great flair, without ever being slavish. Its vocal harmonies are attractive, sturdy, and just-short-of-sugary dulcet. Its melodies have an ebb-and-flow to them, are attractive though slightly angular and twisty, frequently assuming a majestic quality that stops just short of grandiosity. In many ways, Field Music recalls the works of fellow travelers the Decemberists. But where the ‘rists are baroque, Field Music is more down-to-earth, more enamored of bracing, classic rock ‘n’ roll clangor. Note the stark, loping, blues-rock motif driving “Each Time Is a New Time” and the nearly power-pop crunch of “Effortlessly.” With its gentle acoustic guitar and percussion intro and idyllic, almost breezy chorus, “Choosing Numbers” is virtually a thinking-person’s anthem for Endless Summer.
Without a trace of nostalgia or retro affectation, Field Music is carrying on the tradition of brainy, bright pop/rock that’s unafraid to wear its heart on its sleeve, sidestepping ostentation, embracing concision. Very fine stuff. (Memphis Industries)