Text: Jacob Parrott
Heavily inspired by dystopian sci-fi worlds envisaged in literary texts, ‘Bright Green Field’ comes as the debut album from Squid, managing to consistently draw comparisons to the bleaker aspects of contemporary society, all under the guise of avant-garde, jazz inflected post punk melodies. Brimming with experimentation, the album’s tracks constantly feel as if they are in motion, adapting tempo and rhythms at a moments notice, all while seemingly building an ever-growing level of tension that runs through its entirety.
Squid’s overall air of creativity and desire for exploration is apparent from album opener, ‘Resolution Square’, which replaces typical instrumentation for a forty second soundscape filled with warping samples, including ringing church bells, tooting bees and even the sounds of a microphone being swung from a ceiling in a room full of amps. While underpinned by an underlying essence of dread, the five-piece still manage to simultaneously deliver an album filled with the fun and energetic dynamism fans have come to expect.
Featuring Ollie Judge’s signature brash vocal stylings, ‘G.S.K’ truly kicks off ‘Bright Green Field’, with it’s overlaying addictive guitar riffs and bold brass sections providing an unquestionable burst of vibrancy, which continues into tracks such as ‘Documentary Filmmaker’ as Judge recounts how “…eggs are always cheaper the day after Easter”. Elsewhere on the album, ‘Paddling’ effortlessly shifts from Western guitar riffs to tension filled sci-fi synth melodies, while ‘2010’ overlays two concurrent vocal tracks alongside bursts of frenetic guitar and drums.
Previously released single ‘Narrator’, is an unquestionable highlight which explores a man’s failing distinction between memory, dream and reality, and how people create their own narratives to benefit their ego. Initially opening with bright guitar riffs and funk infused bass, the track gradually evolves into an erratic hellscape utilising increasingly abrupt and multi-layered instrumentation alongside wailing guest vocals from Martha Skye Murphy.
‘Boy Racers’ distinctly stands out among the rest of the tracks on ‘Bright Green Field’, as it displays the most disparity between what one could consider a traditional Squid track i.e. ‘Houseplants’, and the greater experimental approach taken with this album. Initially feeling free of the tension, sonically the track manages to feel lighter with it’s pretty guitar riffs and tight drum patterns, as Judge repeatedly claims to dream about the aforementioned “Boy Racers”. Less than halfway through however, the track’s vibrant jubilance comes to an end, replaced by a long bassy synth drone, reminiscent of THX’s sound trademark, ‘The Deep Note’. Shifting and warping it’s tonality over the following few minutes, the track seemingly transforms into the dread imbued score for an 80’s sci-fi horror, assisted by extreme vocal modulation causing them to become robotic in nature
With production from Dan Carey (Speedy Wunderground), and featuring collaborations from Black Country, New Road’s Lewis Evans and multi-instrumentalist Emma Jean Thackery, the album as a whole feels as if it has taken the previously established sound of Squid and injected an expansive dose of experimentation and tension into it. While this does in some way remove some of the accessibility and commerciality of previous releases, Squid show with ‘Bright Green Field’ that they are willing to subvert expectations, resulting in an album which continues to incorporate their characteristically fun sound, whilst refusing to shy away from the often harsh and challenging reality of contemporary society.
Warp Records /V2 Records