Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Let’s Dance in a Bright Green Field - Squid Stun with their full-length debut

For fans of: Do Nothing, Crack Cloud, Girl Band and Black Country, New Road.

Meet Squid. The Brighton five-piece set ablaze an idiosyncratic path in the punk sphere after their emergence in 2017 – but their eagerly anticipated album, Bright Green Field, has managed to fan these flames even higher. 

On the surface, Squid’s debut album seems to just be a witty lockdown record. Although, their esoteric meanderings with gritty realism seem to serve as an unsettling reminder that capitalism, corruption, and technology have all altered the texture of our everyday experiences beyond recognition. 

The album opens with the seemingly ambient ‘Resolution Square’. However, the forty-second track quickly begins to intone the strange outset of the album, with disorientating, swirling fragments. Only gradually does the mixture of sound recordings begin to reveal the band's ironic intent, which is to demonstrate how music seems to be coalescing like crystals into a bleak apocalyptic portrayal of the 21stcentury, characterised by the collation of simplistic soundbites.  

Judge’s broader vision of the slow cancellation of the future, accompanied by sinister references to a capitalist dystopia, could be presented by high-definition graphics on ‘G.S.K’. Squid seems to take a leaf out of Girl Band’s book, by focusing intensely on the seemingly mundane 'GlaxoKline', until it transforms and transcends into something else entirely – the important sense that there is no present to grasp or articulate anymore, as we slowly move into a dystopian society.  

Squid kicks off the album with the calculated pandemonium, ‘Narrator’. Judge’s cool delivery and off-kilter lyricism occupy unusual spaces in the song’s arrangements. The rest of the band build a world around Judge and Murphy, providing the perfect conditions for their vocals to flourish. Elsewhere, the arpeggiated riffs, cacophonous notes, and spacey synths take hold, although the sonic chaos is soon tempered and controlled by the vocals. ‘Narrator’ is the album’s most exhilarating track and stretch of sound. Although the track is not looking to shock its listeners, Judge and Murphy narrate an uncomfortable truth for women in their own inimitable way.

‘Boy Racers’ begins as a linear groove, dominated by notes of discordance and punk-funk. Although, halfway through the track, a distorted drone takes over and the track becomes empty. The soundscape becomes subservient to the faint Daft Punk-like voice that emerges – needling to the core of modern unease, as we navigate a world in which technology is developing rapidly.

The groovy sound of ‘Boy Racers’ accelerates to ‘Paddling’, which opens in a sedated fashion. A sense of unease pervades ‘Paddling’, as the band explores the dichotomy between simple pleasures and decadent consumerism. Electronic glitches, caustic guitars, and pulsing synth lines build up the tempo, as the song bursts into a visceral crescendo, with Judge screaming “Don’t push me in”.

The eight-minute-long ‘Pamphlets’ is the closing track of Bright Green Field. It’s a boisterous, groovy, and infectious song that encapsulates the peak of Squid’s musical powers. Whilst the track contemplates real-world tensions regarding the ideological blackmail of right-wing propaganda, it offers its listeners a sense of catharsis. The feeling of frustration, after trying to reclaim a real political agency in a right-wing-dominated society, is as omnipresent as it is disavowed. Every moment of this track counts.

Bright Green Field is the quintessential balance between the past and future. The album employs the ambiguous nature of the bands’ Windmill mates, Black Country, New Road, brings back the sound of the post-punk past that was seemingly lost with The Fall and XTC – all whilst continuing to dominate the latest wave of post-punk.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side – especially if you’re listening to Bright Green Field. 

Best Tracks: ‘2010’, ‘Boy Racers’, ‘Paddling’ and ‘Pamphlets’.

Aimee Dodd

Image: Official Album Artwork

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