Field Music is one of the most underrated Britpop bands since... well, one of the most underrated Britpop bands ever. Their self-titled album last year was one of the musical highlights.
And in "Tones of Town," the Sunderland band manages to top their debut, with a nearly flawless collection of catchy, warm, colourful pop music, cobbled out of squiggly synth, drums and angular guitars. Everything is tighter, more polished, and more musically adept.
It opens with what sounds like a restaurant -- dishes clattering, voices conversing, general hubbub. As that dies away, a chiming melodiy grows louder and louder, with some bouncy, gritty electric guitars joining in.
And it blossoms into "Give It Lose It Take It," a peppy, sunny confection made of squiggly synth, angular guitars and the occasional wave of strings. "Give it away/Nothing's worth keeping that you can't say/Lose it, strip yourself down/Its giving away can always be found/All that you have is all that you need to be!" Peter and David Brewis croon.
They follow that with the rich, beatboxy pop of "Sit Tight" and the swirling tambourine-guitar pop of the title track. What comes after it is a string of deliciously endearing pop tunes -- sprightly pianopop riddled with violin and guitar, mellow ballads, funky guitarpop, synth-riddled rockers, and other layered tunes that will surely have you bouncing in your chair.
Whatever was good about Field Music's music in their first album is multiplied in this one -- the lyrics, the music, and the general feel have all gotten better. The music was fun guitarpop with some flourishes before, but now it's made up of dense little packages of catchy pop, woven together out of outstanding instrumentation.
But despite the deliciousness of the music, there's a vague feeling of discontent in these lyrics. The Brewis Brothers don't complain outright -- they're too bright to try the "poor li'l me" approach -- but their lyrics feel as if they yearn for something more, and don't know what it is exactly.
It's a direct counterpoint to the music, which is a sparkling collection of very tight, very polished little pop tunes. The angular little guitar riffs are wrapped in plenty of squiggly, sunny keyboard (courtesy of Andrew Moore), an occasional tambourine shake, lots of rippling piano, and some rapid-fire drums that add a rock edge to the sunny pop.
And Brewis does a good job balancing between the sunny music and wistful lyrics. His voice is strong and smooth, and he can murmur out those songs without sounding depressing. "Oh and you're a long way from home/All of the thoughts you had were not your own/Even the time you came was somebody else's time/But you're alive between the lines..."
Field Music churn out a brilliant second album in "Tones of Town," with its wistful songwriting and beautifully complex pop melodies. Absolutely a must-listen... and who knows what they'll come up with next?