What the fuck.
EDIT: WHAT THE FUCK
edit 2: what the ACTUAL FUCK
EDIT 3: I think I just inked myself.
Yeah, no, this shit is great. Squid are, I would say, the most quote on quote ‘fun’ band in ‘The Windmill’ trilogy of bands that people have connected with each other (the other two being Black Country, New Road and Black Midi, connected due to their affiliations with previous record labels, performing joint gigs at the venue known as ‘The Windmill’ together and all being pretty good friends). Not to say that Black Country New Road or Black Midi are not assloads of fun, far from it, but what I mean by that is that Squid are the band that sound like they themselves are having the most fun making the music they do, taking cues from Post-Punk, Experimental, Electronica and Krautrock music. If Black Country New Road are the dark brooding teenager sitting in the corner and Black Midi is the screaming lunatic brother running around the room throwing paint cans at everything, Squid, at least on their debut, is the optimistic 5 year old with a smile on their face playing with superhero toys.
Everything about this album matches its title/cover art. It’s a bright, loud, colorful project that I would describe only as ‘quirky’, using the experimental post-punk sound and infusing it with more vibrant, poppy, danceable, jam-band-esq qualities that seem to be borrowed from bands like Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem and even moments that reminded me of Plastic Soul era Bowie (am I the only one who thinks that the horns on G.S.K. sound like they could easily fit on Young Americans?). With a much bigger emphasis on synth-work and groove, Squids style of genre blending is done so in a way that doesn’t seem like they are deliberately stealing from their influences and more healthy injecting the more movable sound with a much more abrasive coat of paint, like a trojan horse of distorted wackiness tucked into some supremely fun grooves. Sure, from the outside, ‘Narrator’ might seem like yet another long, self indulgent prog-esq behemoth that Black Country New Road are so lovingly known for, with its eight and a half minute runtime and gradual progression into a crazy outro. But, as soon as you actually play the track, you know exactly what kind of band Squid want to be: a funky, in your face, frantic and adrenaline fueled bunch of British Boys who just wanna dance, and by GOODNESS do they dance well.
Tracks like ‘G.S.K.’, the first half of ‘Boy Racers’, ‘Paddling’ and ‘Pamphlets’ are undeniably some of the most fun tracks to come out this year, with groovable basslines, sharp distorted guitar tones, punchy as HELL percussion, experimentally crazy yet sweet synth notes and over the top wacko vocals from main vocalist, Ollie Judge (who also plays drums, which is beyond impressive to me) who has exaggerated belts that I can only describe as a chaotic mix between James Murphy, David Bryne and Daryl Pulumbo. It’s extremely technically rich music, meaning that one spin of these songs only really gives you about 45% of the experience, with so many textures, melodies and noises being added to this music that makes for some absolutely AMAZING relistens.
They say that ‘each frame is a painting’ for films, but with Squid it feels like ‘every second a symphony’, and that's the thing I love most about this album: it never stays one note. Songs constantly refresh themselves with new, strange passages and bizarre, dense soundscapes while maintaining a core sound that is undeniably theirs, like the awe-inspiring THX-type synth outro of ‘Boy Racers’ (which almost sound Brian Eno-esq at times), the operatic Martha Skye Murphy feature on ‘Narrator’ or the almost Animal Crossing inspired synths found on ‘Documentary Filmmaker’. It’s an album that makes its sole intention to not be boring, and to always excite the listener with something new. It refuses to stay in one lane and in doing so can go at ultrafast speeds down the sonical highway that ‘Bright Green Field’ presents.
But at the same time, there is a lot of tight social anxiety running through this album's veins that influences a lot of the album's lyrical content. ‘Bright Green Hill’ reads as borderline manic screamings into a brick wall from an introverted maniac who is vastly confused in their place in the world, and it’s a message that connected with me a lot more than I was expecting from the same band that sounds like they want to snap my neck at any given moment. The album feels very dystopian and industrial in tone, which contrasts beautifully with the bright, playful soundscape so well that everytime I read the lyrics for songs like ‘Documentary Filmmaker’ or ‘2010’, I genuinely feel a little uncomfortable.
Overall, if you need an album to summarize the 2020 experience, then look no further then beyond the bright green field. It’s a tense little experience that will be stuck in your head for days to come. Get pushed in.
Favorite Jams: Narrator, 2010, Pamphlets
Lest Favorite: Resolution Square (seriously, what does this add)