A Smile Cracks
Suits Us Better
Between The Suburbs
Moment of Doubt
So Much Time
You Kept Yourself
Details Old Fears
The new School Of Language album is called Old Fears and it’s set for release on Memphis Industries on 7 April 2014.
Old Fears. It’s a pop record. A place of clipped falsetto, melancholic funk, iridescent electro, shimmering post-punk, futurist prog. A self-contained sphere of strange sensations. Beguiling textures. Lengthening shadows.
At times it is both liminal and minimal, at others emotive and external. Ambiguous and ambient. Tantalising and tempered. Modern. Unique. And funny too. “I wrote a lot of notes and they seemed to distinctly split into things to do with love and things to do with fear,” says David Brewis. “A lot of it has ended up with me looking back at when I was 19, 20 – my formative years. So though I wouldn’t want to call it a concept album it’s definitely themed.”
Old Fears. Here each song has been honed and polished into something pure, like a vast block of marble chiselled down into a perfectly tiny delicate egg of Fabergé-esque perfection. Recorded throughout 2013 in Field Music’s studio on the banks of the River Wear in Sunderland, synth flourishes sit alongside the staccato jarring guitars of ‘A Smile Cracks’ and the metronomic rhythms of ‘Dress Up’. Like a Ballard novel or a George Shaw painting, ‘Between The Suburbs’ offers perhaps the most lyrical and poetic moment, where “Dogs chase patterns, play to attention / Bulbs glare on greasy roads…”.
The title track meanwhile is reminiscent of the haunting giallo film scores of Goblin or kosmische music at its most moving while ‘Moment Of Doubt’ displays shades of Brian Eno and Robert Wyatt. Other oblique influences come in the form of early Justin Timberlake and N*E*R*D albums, “a bunch of disco records”, Canadian experimentalist Sandro Perri, Dr John, Fela Kuti and Shalamar.
Old Fears. A haunted collection that occupies a strange, hazy hinterland of permanent gloaming. One where snatched melodies pass each one another like cars gliding by at night on their way back to the silent suburbs. These are polished pieces composed without contrivance. Old Fears. An album that is neither retrogressive or futurist, but simply anchored in the moment. Pure.
By beautiful album closer ‘You Kept Yourself’ one is left with the sensation of seeing, smelling and tasting the world anew.
* School Of Language is the nom de plume of David Brewis, a member of Mercury prize-nominated pop group Field Music. His first album as School Of Language Sea From Shore was released to wide acclaim in 2008. A pop polymath, the past twelve months have also seen David assemble and play in Eleanor Friedberger’s touring band, do production work for Maximo Park, Futureheads-affiliates Rivals, Pea Sea and a collaboration between brother Peter Brewis and Paul Smith, as well as remixes for Dutch Uncles, The Ralfe Band and Phoenix Foundation. He has also performed a score for 1929 silent documentary Drifters (and will be again at the Aldeburgh Festival on 1 February) and composed pieces inspired by books shortlisted for the inaugural Gordon Burn literary prize.
Ben Myers / January 2014