Squid - Bright Green Field

The Quietus

In 2016 there was a Record Store Day all-dayer at the Brighton Dome. By the early evening I was starting to feel the fatigue of watching a new band every thirty to forty minutes since lunchtime. I was about to leave when the next band started up. The music they made was a more minimal version of Portico Quartet. I was transfixed. They were called Squid. I’d never heard of them before. Years later I found out it was only their second gig. I wrote their name down in big letters in my notepad and on my walk home they were all I could think about. Once inside I immediately downloaded their complete back catalogue. Over the next few weeks and months, I saw them whenever I could. These gigs saw them shed that minimal Portico Quartet sound, incorporate a Spacemen 3 vibe and eventually turn into the band that released the phenomenal Terrestrial Changeover Blues (2007 - 2012) and their Speedy Wunderground breakout single ‘The Dial’.

Now they’ve released their debut album Bright Green Field on Warp Records. A home that at first felt alien, but now feels like the right place for this mercurial bunch of musicians. It is everything I hoped it would be, but also not what I expected at the same time. Recording a debut album can be a knee-knocking affair and many bands who have been hyped like Squid have fallen apart under the pressure. But not Squid. This might be down to it being produced by Speedy Wunderground’s Dan Carey. He has stabled the ship and helped deliver one of the finest debut albums this century.

The best thing about Bright Green Field – and Squid in general – is how fun it is. There is a tendency with similar post-punk acts to be dour or morbid. There is nothing wrong with that. The themes that they write about are generally downbeat. But Squid manage to inject bouncy rhythms to their tales of modern living. After the scene-setting forty-second opening track ‘Resolution Square’, ‘G.S.K.’ comes at you with lumbering rhythms and roguish guitars. Think the Fall covering ESG and you’re on the right lines. Over this, drummer and vocalist Ollie Judge shouts “As the sun sets on the Glaxo Klein / Well, it’s the only way that I can tell the time” after which huge funky horns explode from the speakers before a jaunty, yet incredibly catchy, guitar motif appears, disappears, then reappears. It sets the tone for the rest of the album. It says “You thought you knew us. But you don’t. We’re going to take you on a journey through our psyche record collections. Sit back. You’re going to enjoy yourself”. And we do.

Throughout, Bright Green Field is a brave and daring debut album that manages to mix experimental and avant-garde influences smack bang next to bouncy indie-disco post-punk motifs. I can’t get over how grand and great it is. What’s more incredible is that it was made by the same people I saw making minimal electronic jazz five years earlier. What Bright Green Field shows us is that the UK music scene is going through what feels like a golden period and if you support and band, but also allow them to evolve at their own pace, you can get something as transfixing as Bright Green Field. With any luck, we’ll soon be able to hear these songs in their natural environment. Live. In a bright – and green – field.

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Tue May 04 16:56:38 GMT 2021

Pitchfork 80

Read Madison Bloom’s review of the album.

Tue May 11 04:00:00 GMT 2021

The Guardian 0

(Warp Records)
Boldly flaunting their influences, the Brighton five-piece hurtle along with huge shifts in style and pace

The multifarious music of Brighton five-piece Squid strives hard to escape definition, their tentacles tangled in krautrock, post-rock, math rock, re-revived post-punk and full-on sax-vamping jazz. Their debut album, produced by Dan Carey, has a lot going on: the influence of Douglas Coupland, field recordings of bells and bees, oblique lyrical reflections on everything from big pharma to Easter eggs. Paddling is typical, a nervy gallop from low-key motorik through spidery goth guitars to a ghostly spoken breakdown, opening at last into an exhilarating punk-funk-kraut expanse.

Though nothing here is truly experimental or innovative – it’s more the kind of music that gets labelled as such because of the influences it shows – Bright Green Field has a hurtling energy, each song shifting restlessly, repeatedly in style and pace. It’s a shame, then, that the vocals of drummer and lyricist Ollie Judge so often pull it back to earth; his detuned, declamatory yelp, part David Byrne, part Mark E Smith, is straight off the post-punk shelf. When he adopts a more restrained style on the Radiohead-esque 2010, or a full-on grunge scream on the menacing, juddering stomp of Peel St, the music is more free to run clear of the past.

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Sun May 09 12:00:18 GMT 2021