Label: Warp Records
Released: 7th May 2021
Brighton five-piece Squid may have built their brand on post-punk belters, but with their debut album, ‘Bright Green Fields’, they’re trying their hands as architects. “This album has created an imaginary cityscape,” explains drummer and singer Ollie Judge, “A kind of dystopian British cityscape.” Only around 5% of the UK is urbanised, but in the hyperreality of modern Britain, most of us are more likely to see the rolling green hills of a Windows background than we are that other 95%. ‘Bright Green Fields’ sees Squid stepping through that looking glass.
Having ditched all prior material for this album, Squid have crafted a vision of reality where everything we hear is either agenda-driven or a load of bollocks. If that all sounds a bit morose for a lively young bunch, there’s spades of oddball character, from the monotonous vocal dis-harmonies of ‘2010′, to the broken printer bassline of ‘Peel St.’. Flecks of ambient distortion creep in everywhere. And while there’s certainly nothing on here that’s as much of an earworm as 2019’s omnipresent ‘Houseplants’, the trade-off is a record that feels cohesive in intention.
In hindsight, lead single ‘Narrator’ was a telling sign of things to come — a fable of lost self and self-indulgent masculinity structured in the mode of a po-faced post-rock epic, despite the jiving rhythms binding it together. There are shades of early Foals, and certainly more than a little David Byrne, but Squid are always their own (aquatic) beast.
The result? A project where each track has more turns than a roundabout, and where you’re as likely to find a grooving bassline at the four-minute mark as you are an abrupt crash into bedlam. It’s a little pretentious, and definitely an album that requires your full attention, but it’s a deceptively good time too. If this is the sound of our dystopian future, sign us up.