By Jon Milton
They’re a clever bunch, are Squid. I’m sitting here listening to ‘Bright Green Field’ and it’s doing my head in trying to figure out what each song reminds me of, but the sheer range of influences covering artists known and unknown makes it a bloody hard job.
There are elements of minimalism, krautrock, dub, electronica, heavy rock, jazz, indie, p-funk, jazz funk and more, so much more. This is no homage to any artist though, with every song retaining a quintessentially Squid-like hard edge - barking vocals, pounding beats, or searing guitar, cutting through the subtleties of the remaining instrumentation.
This album has been a long time coming, from a band that seem destined to make remarkable albums. The band whet our appetites with their ‘Town Centre’ EP, a masterful piece that’s only disappointment was that it wasn’t longer. The band announced signing with Warp Records with their 'Sludge/Broadcaster' single last year, but remained quiet about the album until this March, the announcement coinciding with the release of ‘Narrator’, which was subsequently followed by the ‘Paddling’ and ‘Pamphlets’ singles in April.
Bright Green Field begins with looped noise in the shape of 'Resolution Square' before 'G.S.K.' strides into play, swiftly followed by ‘Narrator’, a song that on initial listen felt like it should close the album, such is its manic crescendo. This is the genius of Squid, a complete disregard for convention that enables them to seamlessly shape-shift their sound at the drop of a hat.
Narrator, as with a few songs on the album is almost two or three songs in one, and you have to marvel at how they’ve managed to converge so many diverse ideas to such good effect. ‘Boy Racers’ continues this trend, a song that begins relatively conventionally before morphing into a Bladerunner-like depiction of engines revving.
'Paddling' picks up the pace, frantic, scampering motorik-driven indie followed by the minimalist-tinged ‘Documentary Filmmaker’. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this might be a chilled part of the album, such is the beginning of ‘2010’, but no, within a minute or so there’s snarling, harsh noise to knock you out of your daze, before the song alters its self once again.
Momentary calm returns again with ‘The Flyover’ before the manic, excellent ‘Peel Street’ hurtles in, followed by the menacing ‘Global Groove’. ‘Pamphlets’ brings us to a close, again transforming itself mid-way through, and fittingly finishing the album at a canter.
As with all great albums, Bright Green Field reveals layer upon layer after repeated listens, and is best consumed uninterrupted, in one sitting. There is so much ebb and flow to it that at times you feel like you could be in the middle of a play, moving from scene to scene, living the moment.
It's a stunning debut album, that feels like the culmination of a lifetimes worth of ideas. In fact, it's a work of art.