Following the amicable shelving of England’s acclaimed indie act Field Music, member David Brewis made an unpredictable solo debut as School of Language with Sea From Shore, released on Thrill Jockey earlier this year. Now he’s backing his brother/former band mate Peter Brewis in The Week That Was, whose self-titled outing is every bit as knotty and wowing.
Far from his sibling’s mostly one-man-show, Peter’s record features nine regular players and three guests. Peter himself sings and swaps guitar, bass, drums, piano, synths and marimba, giving you a hint of the range of instrumentation here (there are also cornets, flutes, fretless bass, samples, violins and cellos). They come together in tight waves of flinty rhythms and fleeting orchestral flourishes that both complement and careen around the sharp, sweet pop at each song’s core.
“The Airport Line” is all over the place, yet defiantly gorgeous, managing a casual brilliance Field Music hinted at but never fulfilled. (School of Language came closer.) “It’s All Gone Quiet” shows off some of the professed Peter Gabriel influence gestating in The Week That Was, built on a prog-y spine of repetitious vibraphone with keys fluttering around overlapping vocals. It’s ambitious without being indulgent and more important, without sacrificing the heart of the song.
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With just eight tracks, most averaging three minutes, the album zips by. “Yesterday’s Paper” is the only would-be epic, totaling seven minutes and rolling out in a dynamic series of vignettes. Like the tunes around it, though, it leaves us breathless and eager to revisit—and perhaps eventually decipher—its complex workings.