Brighton-based quintet Squid have slowly been releasing tracks since 2016, with notable highlights including 2018 single ‘The Dial’ – released on the cult label Speedy Wunderground, who would later release their incredible ‘Town Centre’ EP – and 2019 single ‘Houseplants’, which received copious airplay on BBC Radio 6 Music. More locally, Squid made waves playing a blistering set at Hyde Park Book Club as part of Live at Leeds in 2019. With the amount of hype built up around them, it was very possible that Squid’s long-awaited debut Bright Green Field (released via Warp Records) could feel somewhat underwhelming. Fortunately, Squid delivered one of the most original and exciting albums we will see in 2021.
Squid are one of few bands at the moment who never seem to sit still, constantly jumping from one sound to the next – just as you think you have gotten used to their sound, you are jolted in completely the opposite direction. This is perhaps why, with every new release, Squid seem more individualist and bohemian. Bright Green Field incorporates elements of jazz, punk, psychedelia, funk, post-punk, dub and everything in-between; it is a beautiful sonic menagerie and an excellent listening experience.
The album kicks off with the atmospheric ‘Resolution Square’, which sets up the experimental tone of the album, before blending seamlessly into ‘G.S.K.’. This transition really signifies that Bright Green Field is not merely a collection of songs, but a perfectly handcrafted album; it’s a listening experience which transports you to this frantic and slightly weird world for just under an hour by means of blaring horns and dystopian lyrics. ‘Narrator’ is a definite highlight, the 8-and-a-half-minute epic encapsulating much of what is so brilliant about the band. The tempo can change on a sixpence, building to what seems like a climax before stopping dead in its tracks. The unpredictably chaotic nature of the track coupled with the contrast between Ollie Judge’s frantic vocals and the (initially) gentle tones of guest vocalist Martha Skye Murphy combine to form an exigently compelling track. Furthermore, the fact that ‘Narrator’ can exist on the same album as the experimental electronic ‘Paddling’, the Krautrock influenced ‘Peel St.’, and the dream-like, psychedelic ‘2010’, and still flow so seamlessly as though they were one continuous song is testament to the musical brilliance of Squid. That being said, Bright Green Field really works best as an album – none of the individual songs would work particularly well as a single release, or at least they would not have the same impact as they do when listened to within the context of the full LP.
Bright Green Field is a prime example of a genuinely exciting band at their very best. From the cover art to the mixing, there is seemingly nothing that could be improved on this album. The only worry is that it will be a difficult release to follow but, if anybody can do it, Squid can! The band are set to play Brudenell Social Club on August 31st. It will be interesting to see how their new material is performed live but, based on their Live at Leeds set from 2019, it’s sure to be a great show regardless.
Bright Green Field is out now – stream the full album here and the recently released Raman Djafari-directed music video for Pamphlets below. Squid’s Leeds album launch show takes place at Brudenell this August.
Header image: Squid. Credit: Holly Whitaker.