Album reviewsMusic

New album reviews: Field Music, DIIV, Breakbot, Francis & Junior Boys

8 February, 2016 — by Christopher Ratcliff0

This week’s new music reviews include the return of the much loved Field Music, the much wondered-where-the-hell-they’ve been Junior Boys and the much wondered-how-the-hell-to-pronounce their name DIIV. Also two other bands who nobody really missed, loved or whose name pronunciation would be a concern to anyone beyond the band’s inner circle.

Album of the week: Field Music – Commontime

The Sunderland brothers Peter and David Brewis have been quietly making the best UK indie music for about a decade now, expertly marrying angular art-rock guitars with new-wave polyrhythms and some grippingly emotive lyrics to make the most lovely and over-looked pop-gems ever recorded. Field Music’s biggest triumph so far was 2012’s Plumb, an album where every track had at least 10 brilliant ideas each but remarkably felt perfectly delicate and balanced. Their follow-up, Commontime, isn’t quite the masterpiece that Plumb was, but that’s a tough act to follow. Instead Field Music have simplified their giant pot of ideas, by just concentrating on a few basic elements per track – a sample, a hook, a beat – and using these to build perfectly formed proto-dance tracks, in a similar vein to Talking Heads or Tom Tom Club. This results in a beautifully crafted album, with enough good stuff to keep you chipper, but perhaps on a few occasions, tracks end up noodling away into repetition. That being said, Field Music always bury their best stuff, and on Commontime the final track ‘Stay Awake’ is utterly gorgeous. 8/10

field music
“I don’t know if we need AAA or AA batteries. Can you remember what the remote control takes? It’s fucking mundane being an underrated indie rock star, huh.”

DIIV – Is the is Are

DIIV have promised a lot since their debut Oshin in 2012, but it has taken a long time and numerous set-backs to get to the release of their awkwardly titled follow-up, Is the is Are. It’s not quite the change in direction as promised by head-DIIV Zachary Cole Smith, as it’s still heavy on the early 90s shoegaze and dreamy stoner haze of Beach House, but it is more polished and ever-so-slightly stares less down it’s own navel. Is the is Are is really lovely and just a pleasure to spend a few lost moments along with. I say “a few moments” it actually goes on forever and your interest may depend on your patience and current sobriety. 8/10

DIIV’s latest public service announcement on ‘giving a fuck about photo shoots’.

Francis – Marathon

Shimmering, delayed guitars, a southern-American twang in the vocals, textures of alt-country and laconic wallowing, plus a song about horses… Swedish five-piece Francis may seem very far from home, but they sound entirely comfortable riding the same dusty terrain as fellow Swedes First Aid Kit into the heartless west of Cormac McCarthy. That’s cool, they’ve got it nailed, and there is absolutely nothing to really fault on their second full-length Marathon, other than, well, First Aid Kit do it a bit more interestingly. This is a fine album for eating beans from a tin while outside in the rain while wondering where the fuck you’ve gone wrong. 6/10

francis band
The AirBnb promised much that it didn’t deliver. I was also told there would be Band of Horses posing outside.

Junior Boys – Big Black Coat

In their sporadic existence over the last decade, Junior Boys have seen the 80s influenced moody synth-pop sound they helped popularise, taken away from them and, frankly, bettered by other bands – Metronomy gave it heart and wonkiness, Chromatics injected it with glacial cool, Friendly Fires made it deeply appealing. So what now for the Ontario duo and their fifth album? Take a detour? Develop their sound exponential and trounce the pretenders? Not quite. They’ve instead reached further back and made a love letter to their influences. There’s everything from neo-soul, Detroit techno, Krautrock and a cover of smoochy 70s soul track ‘What You Won’t Do For Love’ by Bobby Caldwell. Junior Boys’ version isn’t nearly as good though. In fact there’s a definite sense of missing the mark throughout Big Black Coat. They think they’re being soulful, but really it all rings a bit false. They think they’re being interesting, but really it’s only interesting from a dance-historian point of view. There’s little innovative or different enough to put Junior Boys ahead of their peers. 6/10

junior boys
By night, music producers, also by night, forensic investigators. By day, too busy clearing up the unholy mess of the previous night’s confusion.

Breakbot – Still Waters

French producer Thibaut Berland’s second album of groovy French house and sophisticated-pop is sexy business as usual. Lots of sumptuous rhythms, delicate Air-like samples, breathy vocals and little to raise the temperature. But as Still Waters has been specifically designed to be played at a St Tropez pool party in mid-July, any raising of the temperature would make its beautiful, affluent listeners suffer from massive heat-stroke. Nobody’s going to mourn them. They should have more interesting music taste. 5/10

Learn to play the piano, lesson #1: figure out which side to face.

Check out all the latest music releases in our new album reviews section, including this round-up featuring Rihanna and Nevermen.

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