Field Music

Plumb

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Field Music's fourth album is their most precise, most musicianly, most progressive album to date. Plumb is the sound of the Brewis brothers refining and perfecting their sound, breaking it down to key elements and keeping a tight rein on the individual songs and the album as a whole. Unlike Field Music (Measure), which seemed to last forever, Plumb rushes by quickly in a whirl of quirky (in a good way) arrangements and stirring performances. This time out, the brothers embrace the prog rock elements that have always lurked around the edges of their sound and have brought them out into the light. Along with the usual Beatles/XTC chamber pop that comes through in the big, hooky choruses and the chiming guitars, there are moments that sound like classic Yes or early Genesis, to name a couple. You can hear it overall in way the guitars coil around each other, in the tricky vocal harmonies and weighty-feeling lyrics, and in the interestingly weird combinations of instruments. There are flashes of pure prog too, like the squiggly bass of "Who'll Pay the Bills" and heavy synth rumble on "Choosing Sides." The prog they incorporate into their structure isn't the overly difficult kind, or the kind that appeals to musos or Tolkien devotees, instead it's the kind of prog rock with hooks and swagger (think "Roundabout") that you'd hear on AOR stations in the '70s. When done right, like on Plumb, this combination of pop and prog works like a perfectly constructed musical machine and here it results in what is probably the duo's most immediately satisfying album yet. The shifting dynamics within each song, and from song to song, keep you riveted throughout and the quality of songcraft has never been higher. Add to that the incredibly strong one-two punch of "Just Like Everyone Else" and "(I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing" that ends the album in a soaring, heartbursting moment of pop brilliance, and you've got a record that stands out as a highlight in an already very impressive and inspiring career.

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