Music Reviews
Tones of Town

Field Music Tones of Town

(Memphis Industries Ltd) Buy it from Insound Rating - 8/10

Field Music doesn't want to trouble you. Would you like a song? Here's one. Oh, you're busy? Sorry 'bout that. Well we'll just be over here playing our song, and if you want to listen you go right ahead. If not, perfectly ok, no bother.

OK, maybe I'm exaggerating. Maybe it's just the way this unassuming English band (Sunderland, ironically) sounds to these American ears. Everything on this album sounds restrained, damped down, not exactly ready to explode, but simply polite. Not a very flattering portrait of a rock band, you say? Peradventure not. Yet, lest I give the wrong impression, know that there is not a single weak moment on this record, musically speaking. In fact, this may be the most consistent album of the past, er, well, maybe ever. The album starts on a solid note, with the syncopated 3 time and 70's synth fills of Give it Lose it Take it, and never really flags; or for that matter, improves. It seems to me like every song is just as good and no better than the last. The style never really varies either. There's plenty of offbeat drumming, vocals that never approach the red, pleasant melodies, and tasteful keyboard and string arrangements.

If forced to pick some highlights, I'd have to say I really like the piano playing on A House is not a Home. It's repetitive back-and-forth really sustains the tune. But wait, this is followed up by Kingston, which also has a great piano part, integral to the song's success. And then there's A Gap has Appeared. You see, this is pointless. It's all the same.

So if every song is equally good, why don't I love it? Because no song is great. None of them even try to be. I'm not sure how all this sounds to my Anglo cousins across the pond, but I find it a little frustrating. The talent on display is evident and abundant. But please, shock me out of my pants, just once! That's all I'm asking! I know you can do it!

I really, really struggled with the rating on this one. Its consistency, cleverness and attention to detail and craft probably put it in the 9 territory, whereas its single note, stubborn inoffensiveness drags it down in the 7 range of simply "nice tunes, nothing special". So I landed in the middle, though in my gut I think I'm being a little generous. Either way, you absolutely, positively cannot go wrong buying this one.