Individuals

Fields

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The Individuals' first EP, Aquamarine, was recorded fast and cheap and sounded like it despite its many virtues, but the Hoboken foursome had a good bit more time to work on their next effort, their debut album Fields, and they managed to create a record that was stronger and more forceful while holding on to the edgy immediacy that had been one of the best things about their debut. Fields was recorded at Drive-In Studio in North Carolina, with Mitch Easter at the controls, and he was the perfect studio colleague for the Individuals; these sessions feel strong and spacious compared to the debut EP, guitarists Jon Klages and Glenn Morrow bounce great ideas off one another in the great tradition of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd while enjoying a ringing tone that flatters their work, and drummer Doug Wygal and bassist Janet Wygal had become increasingly confident and nimble, cutting a minimalist po-mo funk that could still pass for new school rock & roll. It's anyone's guess if the Individuals had grown significantly as songwriters in the year the followed their first EP or if they were just saving the top-shelf material for a long-player, but these tunes are uniformly superior to anything on Aquamarine, especially the jagged landscapes of "Walk by Your House," the echoey menace of "Johnny's in the Mines," and the towering backbeat and ferocious jangle of "Dancing with My Eighty Wives." Fields left no doubt that the Individuals were one of the most potent bands on the burgeoning Hoboken, NJ scene alongside the Feelies and the Bongos, but the band didn't stay together long enough to capitalize on its excellence; the group splintered and broke up in 1983, but the lone LP they left behind remains as clear, satisfying, and energy-inducing as a tall glass of iced tea on a hot day, and is a standout achievement for the Hoboken new wave pop underground of the era.