Review Summary: Open wide, we've got everything, everything that you like
Attempting to box Squid into a single genre is a fool's errand. The band has an appetite for pushing the envelope, whether it's tackling post-punk, jazz, electronic/dance music, math rock, or pretty much anything else you could imagine. It's more than just an appetite, actually - they seem hell-bent
on taking their music and contorting it into the weirdest and most unexpected shapes. Their debut EP Town Centre
hinted at what they could become, and since then they've sprinkled in additional EPs and singles to keep us on the edge of our collective seats. With their downright wild debut Bright Green Field
, they have us falling out of our chairs, dancing, flipping tables, and making love. Maybe not in that order, but you get the point.
Bright Green Field
is best approached with an open mind, because you sure as hell are not going to get anything conventional here. They make that obvious right off the bat, with the adventurous 'G.S.K.' showcasing Ollie Judge's Idles meets Modest Mouse
vocals as he squawks on about praying to the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline while the sun sets on a mosquito-plagued hillside. The song toes the line between punkish cacophony and funky jazz grooves, with brass flourishes. The stutter-stopping guitars on 'Narrator' give off a mini panic attack vibe until it explodes into a full-blown mental breakdown, featuring Judge and guest vocalist Martha Skye Murphy interlocked in a battle of unsettling screams and sighs - all with swirling, washed out electric guitars gushing from beneath like a treacherous river. This is the sort of thing you can routinely expect from Bright Green Field
, a record that thrives on all the different ways it's able to draw listeners out of their comfort zones.
Squid's quest for innovation never slows down. 'Boy Racers' falls off a cliff halfway through, sinking into a sea of shimmering acoustics and eerie robotic voices, distant rumbles, whale-like electronic hums, and dissonant feedback before suddenly turning back on like a machine - the full amperage of Borlase's and Pearson's guitars buzzing like a generator. 'Paddling' kicks off with an almost danceable electronic backbeat before transforming into a full-blown punk rocker. 'Documentary Filmmaker' bustles with noodling jazz horns, while 'Peel St.' sees everything boil over a short couple of tracks later with Squid's most energetic guitar work yet. By the album's curtain-call, Ollie has damn near lost his mind - exploding into his most grating and crazed screams during an extended, epic breakdown.
Bright Green Field
truly proves to be an endless series of blind turns: right when you think you know what Squid might be thinking of doing next, they slap you in the face with something invigoratingly fresh. It's as daring a post-punk laced with [insert genre]
debut as you'll ever hear, and it feels like the sort of unexpected moment when the grounds of music start to shift. Few artists are capable of molding our ever-rigid genre bounds, but those who accomplish it don't do so by remaining put. Squid proves on their very first try that they have the cajones to make big changes to the way we think about music. It may be early, but get ready to etch their name alongside some of the all-time greats. Bright Green Field
is already an album rife with the qualities of a classic.