Field Music

Open Here

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In their long career, Field Music's David and Peter Brewis have never put a foot wrong. Their albums have been brilliant chamber pop from start to finish, full of complicated chords, tricky playing, and sneakily emotional lyrics. Released in 2016, Commontime added something new to their long-established formula: cute '80s pop flourishes that made it their easiest album to dance and/or swoon to. Arriving in 2018, Open Here goes further in incorporating poppy sounds while filling the arrangements with even more flutes, strings, and horns than have been heard on a Field Music album. The brothers still have the unerring knack for crafting smart and snappy pop songs that have more twists and turns than a mountain highway and sound clearer than a fresh spring running down the side of that mountain. Working with friends and colleagues in their home studio, the brothers Brewis have never sounded quite as relaxed, or gotten quite as political. The stop-start synth pop song "Count It Up" details all the advantages middle-class white guys have had -- and continue to exploit -- while sounding like Art of Noise on a holiday with Sparks. Elsewhere, the brothers knock out herky-jerk rockers ("Share a Pillow") that have some serious strut and honking horn sections; string-softened ballads (the title track) that show their prowess as arrangers; and soft rock grooves ("Daylight Saving") that never sink into stasis thanks to the powerhouse drumming (another Field Music trademark that is in full force on Open Here). The rest of the album's songs meet the exceedingly high Field Music standards of melody and wit, while coming off as both more condensed (thanks to the razor-sharp hooks) and more expansive (thanks to the guest vocals, extra horns, and rich arrangements). It's the kind of album where, as one song ends, the anticipation for what the next song may bring grows and grows. It's rare for a band so far into its career to make an album that can still surprise listeners as the group gleefully makes its way from beginning to end. Field Music are masters of that neat trick, and Open Here is no exception. It stands with their best work -- some songs would no doubt end up on a greatest-hits collection -- and in that regard is some of the best pop music anyone could hope to hear in 2018 or any time after.

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