By Field Music
The shining, swirling, sun-drenched pop with peculiar but often alluring percussion that made up Field Music's self-titled album is, unsurprisingly, the staple of this B-sides collection. The main difference however, is that whilst the album was let down by inconsistent quality, melodic similarity and a frustrating glimpse at the potential that was yet to mature, the rarities and B-sides are charming and ensnare in a way that the album only hinted at.
With one ex-Futurehead and one Maximo Park drummer you might expect Field Music to sound something like a mixture of the two; in fact, it rarely becomes apparent at all. The first song You're Not Supposed To would sit happily anywhere on The Futureheads' album, yet aside from this and some fleeting Maximo Park moments elsewhere, the sound is more like The Beach Boys, The Beatles and The Clientele.
Perhaps where this collection succeeds most is in its simplicity. There is far less instrumentation, most of the layers of whirling guitars and other strings that had over-complicated the sound to the detriment of many songs on the debut album have gone. The sound is still just as rich and warm but the songs are given more space to breathe and the song-writing works better because of it. There's also far more variety, the album got stuck in one mindset and ran with it for the whole length, leading to some mediocrity and making the album as a whole a little dry and difficult to listen to without getting bored. These songs play in reverse chronological order going back as far as 2000 which keeps the collection fresh and interesting but also highlights the band's lack of progress. The only real disappointment is Feeding The Birds which lacks the poignancy and beauty required to make such a slow and simplified song successful. However, this is merely a blip and is made up for by the upbeat, charming and quirky Alternating Current and Test Your Reaction.
Overall, whilst the history of the band which adorns the album cover, is unlikely to enthral even the most hardcore fan, the music stands a reasonable chance. There are still some weaknesses, a couple of songs are a little dull and the full potential of the songs is rarely attained, but as a whole, it's more listenable and enjoyable than their debut album.