As Squid begins to make some traction following their debut album, fortified by the already massive amount of momentum the group have garnered from a selection of singles and EP's since their inception back in 2017, you're sure to see a lot of comparisons about their sound. Most commonly, you're going to see effectively every correlation and contrast with modern weird-rockers black midi and Black Country, New Road, who are just up the road in London from Brighton, where Squid call home. This also comes from an obvious shared relationship with Dan Carey, the producer of black midi's debut album as well as both albums of other contemporary Fontaines D.C. Other's will travel back to the early days of the art-rock/post-punk movement and see the dance grooves and energetic performances of Talking Heads influencing the approach Squid take. All of these thoughts are justified; as post-punk continues to see a renaissance of sorts with acts like Shame, IDLES, and now countless others sharing their own artful takes on everything that goes into the vast genres history it's natural to try and place where all these odd directions might have branched off from.
Here's the thing, though. As much as Squid share aspects of many of these acts, and the fingerprints of Carey are smudged on the production work of Bright Green Field, the five-piece are their own trailblazers - the roads may interconnect, but they still remain parallel. Squid certainly share the cacophony sound of Black Country and long form performances, the experimental instrumentation of black midi, and Ollie Judge revels in inspiration from David Byrne's eccentric vocal inflections, but there's no doubt that Bright Green Fields sounds ultimately like nothing we've heard before and may ever hear again.
Bright Green Fields has just about something for any fan of post-punk at large. Likely the most evident link is in the dance-punk grooves; chunky bass guitar rhythm, plucky guitar strings, and guiding drum kicks are apparent fixtures of songs like G.S.K., Boy Racer, Peel St., and Pamphlets. Ollie Judge is no doubt a perfect vocalist for what the group are undertaking here, perfectly switching back and forth from accented singing, manic shouts, and the ever-present spoken style, all of which can be heard in other groups throughout post-punks long lineage. The group also don't sit in steady tones - Global Grooves is a solid juxtaposition of dim and sometimes sludgy steps to the bookended Peel St. and Pamphlets long leaps. There's a lot of wisdom of what makes this sound so infectious and diverse, reasons that fans abroad have latched onto for decades now.
Squid also take some pretty experimental turns across their debut, like the four minute ambient drone outro to Boy Racer, jazzy brass section on Documentary Filmmaker, and Midwest emo/math rock fiddling on 2010. The long-winding Narrator is perhaps the most eccentric of the bunch, taking nearly every aforementioned direction and finding a way to pack them all into an eight minute epic, all emphasized by the frenzied shrieks of Martha Sky Murphy and breakdown of noisy instrumentation that threatens to get so unchained that it could break. Whenever you think Squid have settled into a classic and catchy groove, you're only a couple moments from the turn that takes you out of your settled place.
If there's one easy comparison between Squid and previously mentioned Black Country, New Road, it's this - both acts have crafted debuts that feel symbiotic without feeling identical, and both have released undoubtedly two of the best albums we'll see not just this year but for a long time to come. That the same scene has, in only a few months, produced two surefire classics in modern post-punk should have you brimming with optimism that this new wave of the revival aren't content with repeating the past but instead redirecting to something even more avant-garde than we may have ever anticipated. By the end of the month black midi may just complete the 2021 holy trinity, and if that happens this year might be one of the greatest for the genre in history.
Favorite track: Peel St.