There has been a great deal of vibrant energy surrounding Brighton post-punk band Squid’s debut album, Bright Green Field, out earlier this month via Warp Records.
Squid have been building momentum nicely over the last five years. They had released three EPs and a stellar run of recent singles that kept people excited for their debut album. That album, Bright Green Field, is finally here, and it fits the bill perfectly, helping to continue what is a renaissance in UK noise and art-rock.
Recorded during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic with producer Dan Carey — the man responsible for producing albums by fellow contemporaries Black Midi and Fontaines D.C. — Bright Green Field keeps within the risk-taking ethos of the experimental spirit leading to a highly varied album sound-wise.
The sounds on display across the eleven tracks range from church bells, humming bees, a thirty-piece choir, strings and horns. As drummer and lead vocalist Ollie Judge says, the group purposefully does this to create an imaginary cityscape illustrating the places, events, and architecture that exists within that.
It is Judge’s uniquely raw but instantly recognisable quirky singing style that centres the band’s music in that classic post-punk sound of the late 70s and early 80s. This is clear on tracks such as ‘G.S.K.’ and ‘Narrator’, which channels fellow post-punk group Shame with sprightly shouty vocals and early Talking Heads instrumentation.
Some tracks on the album are pretty lengthy; however, this does allow time for improvisation and experimentation. A case in point is ‘Boy Races’, which clocks in at over seven minutes and contains multiple tempo changes and stylistic adventures that ensure the listener is intrigued. This is not conventional guitar music by any stretch and, in this instance, dives deep into avant-garde territory.
There is some more traditional guitar indie, shall we say, with tracks like ‘Peddling’, perhaps offering relief when you’re not in the mood for an epic and fancy a traditional song structure and a tune you can tap your feet to.
Ultimately, Bright Green Fields is about taking risks and pushing the noise they make to the absolute limit sound-wise and in terms of composition. These moments are seen on the likes of the Public Image Limited-style ‘Peel Street’, ‘Global Groove’, a horn drenched slow burner set to Radiohead-esque guitar, and ‘Pamphlets’, an eight-minute saga that truly captures everything about this album stylistically from the vocals right down to the light and shade displayed in the instrumentation.
Squid have made a superb debut album. An album that lines up nicely against their critically acclaimed experimental/punk/art-rock contemporaries. It encapsulates the glimpses of talent they showed on their past projects and shows enough promise for them to build on in the future.
Judge’s vocals shine throughout and his performance is the absolute highlight, while the instrumentation from the five members collectively really make the songs soar. Clearly, they are talented musicians and the way they construct songs shows that they are unafraid to experiment with composition; that is entirely down to their musical chops and knowledge.
Guitar music here in the UK is proving very interesting at the moment, and bands like Squid are very much of an energy that has not been seen for probably 25 years. It’s exciting. It feels like we’re living through something extraordinary at an age we can truly appreciate it. Music always saves the day.
As previously announced, Squid — Louis Borlase (guitars, vocals), Ollie Judge (drums, lead vocals), Arthur Leadbetter (keyboards, strings, percussion), Laurie Nankivell (bass, brass) and Anton Pearson (guitars, vocals) — will tour North America for the first time this autumn.
Named a Best Act of SXSW by the New York Times and Paste, Squid are not to be missed live. For a taste, preview this live performance of “Paddling.”
Squid Tour Dates
Tue. Sept. 7 – Brighton, UK @ Concorde 2
Thu. Sept. 9 – Bristol, UK @ Marble Factory
Fri. Sept. 10 – Manchester, UK @ Albert Hall
Thu. Sept. 23 – London, UK @ Printworks
Fri. Sept. 24 – Birmingham, UK @ The Crossing
Sat. Sept. 25 – Nottingham, UK @ Rock City
Mon. Sept. 27 – Newcastle, UK @ NUSU
Tue. Sept. 28 – Glasgow, UK @ SW3
Wed. Sept. 29 – Belfast, UK @ Empire
Thu. Sept. 30 – Dublin, IE @ Button Factory
Sun. Oct. 3 – Cardiff, UK @ Tramshed
Mon. Oct. 4 – Southampton, UK @ 1865
Tue. Oct. 5 – Exeter, UK @ The Phoenix
Thu. Oct. 7 – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
Fri. Oct. 8 – Brussels, BE @ Botanique
Sat. Oct. 9 – Paris, FR @ Trabendo
Mon. Oct. 11 – Cologne, DE @ Bumann & Sohn
Tue. Oct. 12 – Hamburg, DE @ Molotow Skybar
Fri. Oct. 15 – Malmo, SE @ Plan B
Sat. Oct. 16 – Stockholm, SE @ Melodybox
Mon. Oct. 18 – Berlin, DE @ Berghain Kantine
Tue. Oct. 19 – Prague, CZ @ Underdogs’
Thu. Oct. 21 – Munich, DE @ Heppel & Ettlich
Sat. Oct. 23 – Zurich, CH @ Bogen F
Sun. Oct. 24 – Düdingen, CH @ Bad Bonn
Mon. Oct. 25 – Milan, IT @ Magnolia
Tue. Oct. 25 – Bologna, IT @ Locomotiv
Thu. Oct. 28 – Barcelona, ES @ Upload
Fri. Oct. 29 – Madrid, ES @ Independence
Sat. Oct. 30 – Vigo, ES @ Masterclub
Tue. Nov. 9 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
Wed. Nov. 10 – New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge – SOLD OUT
Fri. Nov. 12 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern
Sat. Nov. 13 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle – SOLD OUT
Wed. Nov. 17 – Los Angeles, CA @ Moroccan Lounge
Fri. Nov. 19 – Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room
Sat. Nov. 20 – San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
Mon. Nov. 22 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir
Tue. Nov. 23 – Seattle, WA @ Crocodile