School of Language’s “Old Fears” at the Head of the Class

19 Jun

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Some bands defy categorization. Field Music is one of them. Various reviewers have characterized the band, headed by brother co-leaders David and Peter Brewis, as post-punk, Brit pop, Brit art rock, and more.

So it should be no surprise that reviewers are finding the solo work of David Brewis just as difficult to define.

Recording under the School of Language moniker, Brewis has released his second solo album, Old Fears. The 10-song set sees David and School of Language moving boldly into sparse, synth-driven rhythms and melodies that meld 80s funk with R&B, while updating everything for 2014.

The album opens with “Distance Between.” Its halting, syncopated beat created with synth bass and drums will have your head nodding within the first 15 seconds. Brewis’ confident, yet spare vocals are reminiscent of David Byrne in both tone and delivery. Love it!

“Dress Up” is another fun, danceable number, with its playfully intertwined synth and guitar melody, rhythm and falsetto vocals the equal of any funk-R&B fusion that came out of the 1980s.

“Between the Suburbs” is the first single the band released when the album was shipped in April. Its jittery synth and out-of-step rhythm again supports Talking Heads-like vocals including nicely layered harmonies in the chorus.

For something that’s really different, try “Suits Us Better.” The track has a cool, laid-back rhythm set up by scat singing. Brewis’ falsetto trips along lightly above. Glistening synths and jangly guitar add just the right touches.

The concluding track, “You Kept Yourself,” features a sprawling, ambient soundscape overlaid with Brewis’ soulful vocals. The song ends with a Gerry Rafferty “Baker Street” style saxophone driving a cinematic trail-out.

If you’re looking for something different, Old Fears from School of Language is winning praise from critics and fans alike.

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