Produced by the inimitable brilliance that is Dan Carey in his South London studio during last summer's heatwave, Bright Green Field embodies this ever-changing world we endure. All the uncertainty of the past year comes to a crux in Squid 's constantly evolving stronghold, with this multi-layered, multifaceted amalgamation of the calm and chaotic. Even from their early days Squid have been a clash of genres and influences - always exploring and innovating - and now their minds are set on realising the true juxtaposing nature of human existence.
Over the latter half of the 2010s, Britain has secured its place as the home for wiry post-punk theatrics. 2021 has proved no exception thus far, with new records from Goat Girl, Shame, and fellow newcomers Black Country, New Road. Finally, Brighton's Squid have released their long-awaited debut album. But even putting the band into that scene boxes them in somewhat.
When Squid were forced out of their gigging circuit because of the pandemic, they were also removed from their de facto focus groups: bars and venues around England where they'd test new tunes, experiment on stage and gauge their audience's reaction. As the global lockdowns of 2020 set in, they went underground -- literally -- to Speedy Wunderground producer Dan Carey's basement studio and set out to record their debut full-length album, Bright Green Field.
The ambitious, experimental outing from the English five-piece, who have harnessed the brighter side of post-punk's pop sensibilities, represents a shift in not only the group's process, but also within the genre.
Open wide, we've got everything, everything that you like
Attempting to box Squid into a single genre is a fool's errand. The band has an appetite for pushing the envelope, whether it's tackling post-punk, jazz, electronic/dance music, math rock, or pretty much anything else you could imagine. It's more than just an appetite, actually - they seem hell-bent on taking their music and contorting it into the weirdest and most unexpected shapes.
The word "island" is usually synonymous with "paradise"--someplace tropical and warm, skewered by beach umbrellas. We're less likely to think of Alcatraz. But when English rock band Squid mention a "concrete island" in the first minutes of Bright Green Field, it's closer to the infamous prison than a Sandals resort. The isle in "G.S.K." is a dystopian slab ruled by Big Pharma, and the record's opening scene, as shouted by drummer and vocalist Ollie Judge, confines us to this grim locale: "As the sun sets, on the Glaxo Klein/Well it's the only way that I can tell the time," he sings.
Squid aren't an easy band to pin down. Live, they're a mesh of arms and legs working in semi-unison - perhaps that's where the sub-aqueous name comes from? - a group of musicians who yearn for spaces new, and ideas hitherto unexplored. On record, too, they've proved continually that resting on their laurels isn't an option. Debut album 'Bright Green Field' encapsulates this, eschewing their prior works - that stellar EP, or 2020 singles 'Sludge' and 'Broadcaster' - in favour of wiping the slate clean, and starting anew.
Bright Green Field by Squid You can't talk about Squid without spending some time on its antic narrator, Ollie Judge, who spatter paints irregular sprays of verbiage in bright, surreal patterns. Uneasy dystopias arise from his jittering, stop-start chants. He spits out words in ratatat rhythms, landing hard on syllables you don't expect him to, and sometimes recoiling audibly from certain words, as if they'd given him an electric shock as he went by.