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May 5, 2008 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Album Review: School of Language – Sea from Shore

Album covers are a funny thing. From the looks of Sea from Shore, the first solo foray from the excellent Field Music’s David Brewis (recording as School of Language), you’d think you were in for a sop album – the cover features Brewis sitting in an in-house photo shoot, staring mournfully away from a mirror image of his face. It’s an image that screams (or rather, whimpers) “I’m feeling sad, here’s some music.”

Surprisingly, it’s a brilliant, bright piece of work, a roughlyhewn art-pop gem. Multi-instrumentalist Brewis straddles guitar, synth, drums, and piano with laid-back ease, and what’s more, his songs are marvellous. You can just imagine this man at work alone in his basement – feverishly composing, recording and layering the tunes kicking around in his mind.

Opener ‘Rockist Part 1’ is a sweetly smooth pop number that winds itself around a fairly simple guitar melody and steadily builds into a full, crashing drum-laden jam. Things segue nicely into ‘Rockist Part 2’, where the pace cuts back a little, and some heavier synth lines stomp all over the place. Things get louder still on ‘Disappointment ‘99’, where Brewis gets some help from Futurehead Barry Hyde on vocals and guitar.

‘Keep Your Water’ is a welcome change in pace, a slower, lilting tune that morphs into a jumpy, sunny section towards its latter half. The real highlight of the album, though, is the final two tracks – ‘Rockist Part 3 & 4’. Though blandly titled, these bookend ‘Rockist’ tracks are the best, most realised songs here. Brewis’ vocal harmonies are spot on, and jerky song structures keep things interesting.

‘Rockist Part 4’ is (purposefully, obviously) almost exactly the same as the album’s opening track, which would amount to a cheap trick if the song itself wasn’t so fantastic. Listening to Brewis sing ‘there is only you’ over his taut guitar melody, you feel as if you’ve unwittingly stumbled into his mind.

Sea from Shore is a good listen, and showcases just what Brewis, and Field Music in general, are capable of. A dense pop statement, this album yields more with each listen. Although the three bonus tracks that cap off the album are fairly ho-hum, this is definitely worth looking into.


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