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Field Music

Tones of Town (Memphis Industries)

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Two-thirds of the outfit Field Music, brothers Peter and David Brewis deliver their second album of shimmering ditties, stitching together Beach Boys harmonies, string sections, and XTC-style pop into a sound that occasionally feels more like a collection of great hooks than a solid batch of proper songs.

Representing thin, bookish white people who know more about the studio than they do the real world, these English lads treat their thematic content as just some words for the listener to sing along to. The lack of emotion makes Tones of Town a frustrating (but impressively diverting) one-dimensional experience: perfect background music for figuring out your taxes, but not something you'll hold close to your heart. That double-edged sword is most apparent on the melancholy closer, "She Can Do What She Wants," where a guy tries to rationalize why his girlfriend left. Peter and David get so busy enjoying the tune's bells and whistles that neither they nor their protagonist seem to have noticed that she's gone.

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