Commontime is the new record from Field Music, the first album from Sunderland siblings Peter and David Brewis since 2012’s Plumb.
Written and recorded in spontaneous bursts over six months in their Wearside studio, Commontime is built around the brothers playing, writing and singing together again after four years of solo works, collaborations and soundtracks. "As much fun as we might have had on our own or collaborating, we missed just spending time in the studio, the two of us, trying things out together." explains David. However, the album also features a wider array of players, including original Field Music keyboardist Andrew Moore, Peter's wife Jennie Brewis and new member of the live band Liz Corney on vocals, along with a panoply of strings and brass.
The space that Field Music vacated still appears to be empty. No one else really does what Field Music do: the interweaving vocals, the rhythmic gear changes, the slightly off-chords, the obvious lack of bombast, the songs which end abruptly or merge into others. And while these idiosyncrasies remain, Commontime shows off the brothers' unashamed love of choruses and classic pop and rock in a way they’ve only hinted at before.
Whilst Plumb took in wider political themes, Commontime sees a shift in focus. Real life conversations are replayed, acquaintances come and go, hard won friendships are left to drift, families grow and diffuse snap shots of the everyday are pulled together over the fourteen songs; vignettes of North East lives set to an ever shifting backdrop of anxious funk, sumptuous strings and intricate rock that is always unmistakably Brewis-esque.
The sense of bubbling political frustration in the lyrics is expressed this time through close-ups rather than Plumb’s broad sweep. Peter and David continue to mine that inexhaustible seam wondering how on earth we ended up here, in this situation, as these people. "It does feel like a conversational record. There’s a lot of dialogue in the lyrics” reveals David.
Opening song The Noisy Days Are Over waves a wry farewell to some bad old boozy days, heels dragging while everyone else is growing up and getting on. Disappointed is a love story lost in a fog of mismatched expectations. Trouble at the Lights asks if these are “hard times for everyone”, even for those behind the tinted windows of their 4x4s. How Should I Know If you’ve Changed? recalls an awkward but typical school reunion whilst Same Name details watching an otherwise sensible friend fall for someone who is charming but full of shit.
Perhaps the overwhelming influence on the brother’s recent song writing, intentionally or not, is fatherhood. Both have become dads since the release of previous album Plumb. "I've had a few shifts in perspective - I can't help but write about family things now” Peter discloses. David's album closer Stay Awake is an apology to his wife for grumpy days following baby induced sleepless nights whilst The Morning Is Waiting For You is Peter’s song for his young son, surely one of Field Music's most tender moments.
Field Music have always been a unique proposition; a band that stand apart from tired rockist, and rock and roll tropes, who consistently question what it is to be a band, who plough a furrow that, since their 2005 debut has been theirs and theirs alone. Now more than ever, with conversations and choruses, family and friendship at the heart of Commontime, Field Music are something to be truly treasured.
Thursday 10th March 2016
Price: SOLD OUT