Field Music and Lawrence Arabia – Hoxton Bar and Grill – 7/1/10 – Live Review

As a wintry discontent descends over the streets of London with a pall of gelid conditions, New Zealand’s Lawrence Arabia, AKA James Milner, and his troupe are more than primed for the evening. “I’ve got really hot legs,” he quips to his band after a heart-warming three-track entrance, “Anyone else wearing long johns?” With his bags packed with humble witticisms and an album, ‘Chant Darling’, a sun-blushed pastiche of classic British pop, James Milne ironic arrival to the motherland of which his ancestors were once exiled is somewhat nostalgic.

Opening with ‘Dream Teacher’, the tousled quintet angelically build harmonies akin to the Beatles-do-barbershop before leading into the infectious melodies of ‘Apple Pie Bed’. Their sound is a template of the pop of yore: simple, soulful and tangible only through its sheer gossamer of relative emotions and sugar-coated melodies. Not enough can be said for this 27-year-old being something of a saviour of pop, especially in a time when complacency over taste has led to commercial gain for the likes of Simon Cowell’s The X Factor. But Milne’s reflective veneer and anachronistic values towards elegant and effervescent musicality is something that needs to be reinstated.

From restoration to reinvention, Field Music return to the stage following their acrimonious hiatus in 2008 is to a packed out house of attentive and static fans. With three studio albums as fodder, pickings from their back catalogue are free flowing and easy aural grazing for their loyal followers, with ‘If Only The Moon Were Up’, ‘You’re Not Supposed To’ and ‘A House Is Not a Home’ defining their curious sound and disposition towards angular arrangements.

Field Music are the working man’s thinking band of pop music. Cutting up time signatures with avant-garde audacity and impunity, the reformed four-piece are not to everyone’s taste. At their best they are challenging, comically joyous and camp; at their worst they are the same. Like the northern drawl that awkwardly fills the gaps between the Brewis brothers alternating between drums, keys and guitar, Field Music are one of those bands that you either get or you don’t. Their esoteric sound, however, is compounded by an impressively tight set which saw the preview new tracks ‘Them That Do Nothing’ and ‘Clear Water’ from their forthcoming double album ‘Measure’.

If Field Music are to be criticised of anything it is there ability to over think, over write and over play; but in the same sentence that is their sound, their difference, and why they are so well adept in accomplishing and conquering it with the charisma and charm that can only be found north of the Watford gap.


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