It usually takes bands and musicians, particularly indie ones, a few years of touring and releasing neglected records to gain critical and popular acclaim. The band Fields has an odd distinction of being the unusual band that got noticed relatively quickly.
Formed in London, the band led by Nick Peill and Thorunn Antonia on vocals seemed in sync when it came to creating Field’s signature sound that borders on haunting, but hits the bullseye on glooming. With Henry Spenner on drums, Matty Derham on bass, and Jamie Putnam on guitar, Everything Last Winter seemed destined to be as depressing as possible.
Fields places heavy emphasis on atmosphere and mood in its music. “Song For The Fields” has a vocal-heavy introduction, but soon shifts up tempo while still managing to keep the earlier feeling of despondency (“You’re not the only one bringing money home, breaking backs in toil, wasted lives in soil”). The end of the song is surprisingly more depressing than the beginning of the song with the lyrics “you’re not the only one” repeating for what seems like an eternity, as if someone is trying in vain to convince himself not to commit suicide.
With “School Books” vocals dominate. The instruments merely accompany Nick and Thorunn in creating the harmony and melody, at least until the middle of the song where the instruments dominate. A large portion of the album is vocal-less. “Feathers” is another example of instrumental solos ending the song. These songs could theoretically end once the lyrics end, but the band extends the songs because it wants to stress the idea that life goes on. “If You Fail We All Fail” has the perfect lyric for this thought: “If grass has grown where we stood still, there’s still time to move on.”
Nick sums up the band’s sound pretty succinctly: “We’ve been drawn to dark, almost pagan qualities, to baroque, medieval melodies, and a general air of melancholy.” He’s being generous when he’s describing the sense of melancholy. Out of the entire album, “You Brought This On Yourself” sounds like the least disheartening. Maybe it has to do with the almost serene harmony that Nick and Thorunn share. Whatever it is, please stay ignorant of the lyrics, otherwise you’ll notice the passionless words “and if you find that your heart’s just a shell, well you’ll lie in the place where we fell.”
The title of the closing track then says it all: “Parasite.”
[photo via The Beat Surrender]
[photo via Pure Volume]
- 1. Song For The Fields
2. Charming The Flames
3. You Don’t Need This Song (To Fix Your Broken Heart)
5. The Death
6. You Brought This On Yourself
7. Skulls And Flesh And More
9. If You Fail We All Fail