ALBUM REVIEW: Squid – Bright Green Field

Release Date: May 7th 2021
Label: Warp Records
Website: www.squidband.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/squiduk
Twitter: www.twitter.com/squidbanduk

Rating:

The UK post-punk revival wave seems like it’s been building momentum for quite some time now. Bands like IDLES, Shame, and Black Midi have all distinctly helped to usher in a modern, aggressive, potent revitalisation of a genre steeped in historical attitude.

2021 can’t help but feel like the reward year, as several younger acts, who’ve spent the last number of years writing, crafting, gigging and honing their style, now appear ready to accost the scene with unhinged abandon, and help elevate it to a genuine musical movement, or eventual phenomenon.

While Black Country, New Road and Deathcrash both experimented with serene post-rock and slowcore on their exceptional February debuts, there’s something particularly off-putting about Squid that makes them such a sonic delight to process. Based in and around Brighton, the five-piece conjure up a complex, hypnotic, at times bewildering, mesh of absurdist math and noise-rock with a sincere, seething, self-aware edge.

Musically, there’s a lot to unpack here on ‘Bright Green Field’. The repetitive looping, noodling mathematics and subtle fusion of electronics hearkens back to the ‘Mirrored’ era of label mates and experimental electronic/math pioneers, Battles. It’s a similarity which makes their signing to Warp Records all the more understandable.

On one hand, you’ve got a band with intimate knowledge of composition and the genres with which they operate best within. Lead single ‘Narrator’ begins as a start/stop dance-punk banger before devolving into eerie whispers provided by Martha Skye Murphy, which eventually mutate into caustic shrieks, while enigmatic lead vocalist/drummer Ollie Judge delivers a deranged, constant refrain that runs the full gamut of emotions from apathetic, to frustrated, to utterly tormented.

On the other hand, you’ve got a group of young men, twisting Krautrock and genres that most likely predate their collective births into an audible stew so noxious, simply because of its brazen balancing of pieces. Everything feels like it could fall apart at any second, and it’s succeeding in this execution that’s so endlessly impressive.

Judge‘s bizarre, bemusing, but hopelessly sardonic lyrical musings weave their way around proceedings at unreliable intervals. He can disappear for long stretches, such as the ambient synthgazing outro of ‘Boy Racers’, or the brooding build up and shattering descent of bombastic closer, ‘Pamphlets’. His phonetic, repetitive, cheeky snarl is remarkably reminiscent of Enter Shikari‘s Rou Reynolds, only with more menace and youthful confrontation.

In between the chaos, there are moments of introspective musing, like the minimal brass that tip-toes along ‘Documentary Filmmaker’, one of the darker, almost sinister commentaries that idle around the corners of the world descripted, critiqued, and deserted in ‘Bright Green Field’.

For a debut to possess this much headiness, humour, intrigue and complexity speaks not only volumes on Squid as an artistic entity, but on the current climate of alternative UK music as a whole.