The Indie Equation

The Unholy Marriage of Music and Math.


Equation #31: Fields.

Simulcast on


This is a Tek Screw. It's a self-drilling screw for sheet metal that's used a lot in the industry I work in. Last week I removed a wall in my office that used a lot of these and while I was removing and applying these screws I was listening to "Everything Last Winter" by Fields. (I think the period is on purpose) If you've ever used a self-drilling screw before you're familiar with the satisfying feeling of that thread finally taking hold as the screw breaks the surface of the sheet metal. For the first few seconds your pressing hard on the drill and nothing seems to happen, then it finally pops and it all makes sense. This is an experience I liken to Fields.' debut album.

The first time through it didn't strike me as anything really special, it was very standard indie with a twist of shoegaze and a light dusting of prog. It played through and, like a 45 day jail sentence, didn't stick. Until the second time through, about two and a half minutes into the track "Skulls and Flesh and More" when the vocals drop out and the synths and guitars start singing this beautiful melody that washes over and over and it just hit me. The threads finally gripped and the album dug it's way in and I haven't been able to put it down since.

After sitting down and giving it the proper attention and focus I realize there's a hell of a lot of nuance I was missing trying to pass this album off as background music. The opening track "Song for the Fields" starts out with a rhythmic acoustic strum pattern and an off-beat clean guitar chirp, giving the listener the impression that this album is going to be a Clash\Blur\Ride revival album through and through, that is until the vocals lift-off about a minute in with a harmony that almost lifts your feet of the ground. Once airborne the song kicks in the jets and is off with a growl. Screaming along with purpose and passion and focus it levels off with the repeated vocal "you're not the only one" and glides for a moment in a sonic hold pattern only to break off into a dive again, ending in a knee-gripping splash down after a full 5:47 flight. In case you didn't catch that analogy, it was airplanes.

The album takes a softer turn in "Charming the Flames", a quiet, haunting guitar pattern leads into chiming arpeggios then into a full-open pop/rock jam. Following it up with the dreamy, relaxing "You Don't Need This Song (To Fix Your Broken Heart) takes it down another step with sunny harmonies and a skipping drum part and honest, self effacing lyrics; "Sing this song like any other one/cause they're all the same". The synth woodwind solo is a nice, appropriate touch. Up next is the beautiful folk number "Schoolbooks", tender harmonies and a waltzing 12-string guitar bring to mind Great Northern or Calexico and, like most of the other songs on this album, it doesn't hesitate to break into a fuzzy wall of guitar and organ to add just a bit of a diversion to keep it interesting.

"The Death", by far the heaviest track on the album sounds like Bloc Party if Block Party had a female vocalist and used a Hammond B3. Present again is Nick Peill and Thorunn Antor's flawlessly melded harmonies and that persistent wave of distorted shoegaze guitar. That doesn't change for "You Brought This On Yourself", a humming, chugging track reminiscent of a less progressive Zwan (remember Zwan?). My favorite track on the album, the one that finally made me stand up and take notice, is "Skulls and Flesh and More", it starts out upbeat, sparse and poppy and is pretty typical of the rest of the album until the instrumental mid-section which is just this soaring, beautiful drenching of sound which drops out for Antor's delicate Icelandic lilt to take the forefront and finish out the song as it started but more energized and refreshed, like that sigh you get after hugging someone you haven't seen in a while.

The band then follows it up with a darker, more serious track "Feathers". Again featuring Antor on lead vocals, it's similar in many ways to a lot of the other tracks but is just different enough to keep the album moving forward.

I've noticed that I tend to like an album more when the band saves an excellent track for the tail end of the album, something to reward you for following the path to the end, you know? Well Fields. left a gem in "If You Fail We All Fail" right before the end of the record, it's got a brilliant guitar lick on top of a stampede of rumbling sound that repeats throughout the song and really takes on the lead part in this track, wrapping it all up with a white gust of feedback and fading into the gentle, cheeky acoustic footnote "Parasite". Despite being a track designed to say goodnight, "Parasite" doesn't seem like a toss-out afterthought but a well-intentioned final statement to an album that has taken the listener on an exciting, refreshing ride.


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