Album reviews: Squid – Bright Green Field and Van Morrison – Latest Record Project Volume 1

·2-min read
<p>Shape-shifting, genre-defying music</p> (Warp Records)

Shape-shifting, genre-defying music

(Warp Records)

Squid – Bright Green Field

★★★★☆

Squid have always pushed the boundaries of genre. Now they’ve trampled them for good. While the Brighton-based band have tentatively been labelled post-punk by critics, their debut album, Bright Green Field, is far weirder than that label suggests. It makes for a challenging first listen – deliberately so, you’d guess – but there are real rewards for those who take the time to unravel this cacophony.

Between and within songs, the five-piece flit from up-tempo rhythms to slow, screaming despair. Tracks change pace sporadically, their length giving Squid room to experiment with just about every element of production, creating an often-uncanny noise.

Just as the eight-minute duet “Narrator” reaches its most impenetrable, with guitars and unconventional percussion becoming harder to identify with every line, it strips back to the bare bones. And then the wave builds again, the once-calming guest vocals of Martha Skye Murphy descending into screeching. This is proudly shape-shifting, genre-defying music. IL

Van Morrison – Latest Record Project Volume 1

★★☆☆☆

Van Morrison was not OK with Covid-19 lockdown, and he wasn’t shy about letting us know it. Last year, he and Eric Clapton released a song in protest, in addition to three earlier anti-lockdown tracks. And you’d better believe that the Northern Irish classic pop singer has yet more to say about being forced off the road.

On the 28-track Latest Record Project Volume 1, the “Brown Eyed Girl” singer takes on a litany of subjects, like social media (“Why Are You On Facebook?”), lockdown life (“Dead Beat Saturday Night”), and the overall lack of independent thought (“Where Have All the Rebels Gone”). Taken together, it’s a bit old-man-yells-at-cloud. (Amazing how frustrations seem to multiply as the years add up.) Still, Morrison’s vocals sound untouched by the decades, and his eclectic, genre-bouncing numbers don’t collapse under the weight of their themes.

Meanwhile, backup singers Dana Masters, Teena Lyle and Mez Clough bolster Morrison’s melodies, and it’s nice to hear that his trademark B-3 organ is back in action, courtesy of Richard Dunn. Latest Record Project Volume 1 might be a grievance-heavy sprawl, but if you’re a Morrison die-hard it’ll be a worthy, timely addition to his catalogue. RB

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