It doesnâ€™t matter if youâ€™ve got an ego the size of The Twang or you claim to not care what people will think about your album because itâ€™s only â€˜the fansâ€™ opinion that really matters (Kaiser Chiefs) - every band feels pressure at the end of the day. Pressure to win a few more plaudits, pressure to hold on to the plaudits youâ€™ve already got and pressure to, dare we say it, simply earn a living. Itâ€™s a feeling that Fields â€“ another band from 2006 trying to prove that theyâ€™re worth the hype in 2007 - should be quite familiar with by now.
Since their formation as a garden shed pipe-dream, Fields have certainly come a long way to arrive at the release of their debut LP, â€˜Everything Last Winter.â€™ A number of high profile support tours with amongst others, Bloc Party, as well as the release of a flurry of impressive and acclaimed singles which have preceded the LPâ€™s release, means that thereâ€™s a distinct pressure to perform here. And perform they do, well, almost anyway.
Whilst an Anglo-Icelandic band on paper might sound like a quaint prospect, as â€˜Song For The Fieldsâ€™ gets the album underway â€“ a song which initially sounds distant but eventually explodes gloriously - itâ€™s clear Fields arenâ€™t exactly the â€˜quaintâ€™ band we all thought. Thereâ€™s distinct venom that runs through their music, which at times is exposed through dark, twisted electronica (â€˜Schoolbooksâ€™) and others through a tougher, heavier rock edge (â€˜The Deathâ€™).
With acclaimed producer Michael Beinhorn (Soundgarden and Marilyn Manson) in the studio, itâ€™s perhaps not surprising that Fields have taken this direction. Couple the rock mentor to the claustrophobic Dublin basement that the record was created in during the summer of 2006 and itâ€™s easy to understand why some songs sound like theyâ€™re trying to break free. Take the hypnotic, â€˜Charming The Flamesâ€™ for example. A painful, anthemic riff laden number, where Nick Peill sounds like a front man with an undeniable presence and Fields sound every bit like a band who are just not content with being confined to the Barflyâ€™s for much longer.
This ambition, however, is also cruelly detrimental to the flow of the LP. For at times Fields just sound like a small band trying to be a big one, as opposed to a big band just being themselves. With the average song length pushing five minutes, some songs just go on for too long in a bid to bowl us over. The initial haunting impact of â€˜Feathersâ€™ â€“ where Thorunn Antonia and Peill share the vocals charmingly - is lost in the breathtaking instrumental final minutes where Fields seem to want to be Coldplay as opposed to, well, just Fields.
While in places â€˜Everything Last Winterâ€™ is the gloriously moving and evocative folk-rock touchstone that weâ€™ve been expecting the Anglo-Icelandic group to make (see â€˜If You Fail We All Failâ€™ for confirmation), ironically, itâ€™s also a record that at times seems to have succumbed to the pressure of expectancy as well, damaging the purist thing of all â€“ the music.