Album Review: Squid // Bright Green Field

With the release of their debut album Bright Green Field, Squid reject the limits of genre, turning experimentalism on its head and completely redefining what it means to be a band in 2021.

The first third of this year has brought us untouchable albums from the likes of Shame, Black Country, New Road and Dry Cleaning. Now, just four years on from their formation and first release Lino, the mighty Squid have chucked their hat firmly into the ring, producing a record that exemplifies everything exciting happening in alternative music right now.

The first half of Bright Green Field (produced by the legendary Dan Carey of Speedy Wunderground) is unquestionably Squid in its sound, the band’s trademark sharp percussion and jagged guitars propping up Ollie Judge’s erratic vocals. The album opens with the mysterious ‘Resolution Square’, featuring hypnotic bells and unintelligible murmurs, before bursting into the incendiary ‘G.S.K’. The single ‘Narrator’ follows, with Squid masterfully weaving spidery math-rock guitar patterns and staccato beats together into an eight minute web of sounds.

At first, ‘Boy Racers’ appears to be a continuation of ‘Narrator’ in its energy. But, eager to keep the listener on their toes, Squid dial it back halfway through, removing all textures until a haunting synth drone and distant vocals are all that remain. Bright Green Field pushes on, picking up speed again on ‘Paddling’ before dabbling in minimalism on ‘Documentary Filmmaker’ (accompanied by none other than Black Country, New Road’s Lewis Evans on saxophone).

‘2010’ is one of the most expansive and boundary breaking tracks, not just on the album, but in Squid’s career so far. Beginning with floaty guitars, In Rainbows-esque rhythms and overlapping spoken word, the song soon falls off a precipice into an eardrum-bursting cacophony of dissonance that will make you wonder what the hell just happened. Like a second-long violent frame mischievously placed in the middle of an otherwise PG movie, this section takes you by sheer surprise and makes you completely re-evaluate Squid’s style of music. The track then snowballs again, gaining momentum before settling into a sustained chaos in the final minute. ‘2010’ elevates Bright Green Field, adding an extra layer of bite to the album and showcasing Squid at their most innovative and unflinching.

Allowing the listener a short break from all the noise, eighth track ‘The Flyover’ returns to the calm of ‘Resolution Square’; indecipherable clips of people talking accompanied by pensive brass phrases. ‘Peel St.’ follows, ushering in the last section of the album in true Squid fashion. A mechanical beat thumps throughout, with the song moving into a restless, Black Midi-inspired wig out before its eventual dissolution.

 

Not finished with the experimentation just yet, Squid pack as much intensity as possible into Bright Green Field‘s two closing tracks. The cinematic ‘Global Groove’ adds a contemplative note to a largely fast-paced and brutal record, while ‘Pamphlets’ sees the band return to the same unbridled approach to writing employed on ‘Narrator’ and ‘2010’.

Bright Green Field is a highly diverse and totally engrossing album on which Squid explore to the very edges of their sonic identity. The band have achieved something that many before them have struggled to do: they have expertly hit the sweet spot between honouring their previously established sound and moving forward into new, unchartered territory. And, while it fits perfectly into the current landscape of genre-bending British music, this album definitely manages to find its own, imitable identity.

Rating

Bright Green Field is out on May 7th, and you can listen here

Author avatar
Fran Hall

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