East coast dream pop quintet, Field Mouse, return with their sophomore album, Episodic, a record carrying deep emotional scars and which marks a broadening of sound and ambitions for the band.
The album opens with lead single ‘The Mirror’, a snarling, bitter and frustrated track of failed and failing relationships. The roaring urgency of the song and Andrew Futral’s heavy set guitars set the tone for a musically explorative record. Not constrained by the fuzz and melodies that typify dream pop and shoegaze, tempos rise and fall across the course of the album. Zoe Browne’s synths crackle at the start of ‘Half Life’, and the growling guitars of ‘A Window With A Terrible Secret’ contrast with the relative softness of ‘Order of Things’. The album is arguably at its weakest on the tracks which are easiest shoehorned into shoegaze, such as ‘Beacon’, but even these tracks exude rich, dense textures and swirling melodies that wash over and captivate the listener.
Recorded in Philadelphia with Hop Along’s Joe Reinhart on production duties, Episodic marks the first time the band have worked together as a five piece across the full course of an album. The outcome is a more cohesive and complete record than their debut, Hold Still Life, with the fuzzy overtones of that record softening, allowing space for the instrumentation to breathe. Towards the end of ‘Half Life’ the track breaks down and Saysha Heinzman’s bass takes centre stage to close the song, whilst Tim McCoy’s drumming patterns on ‘Do You Believe Me Now’ build with thundering intensity. Rachel Browne’s vocals are also more pronounced in the mix this time around. Bringing to mind Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser, Browne’s voice is beautifully restrained and carries real authority and emotional weight.
Lyrically, Episodic is grounded firmly in the experiences of day to day life. With writing handled mainly by Rachel Browne and Andrew Furtal, it retains the anxiety and uncertainty that drove their debut, but Episodic is also driven by the experiences of the band in the 12 months in which it was recorded. Family illness and deteriorating relationships appear to have fuelled the creative fire, as the album feels almost cathartic at times. The result feels both deeply personal and introspective but through the subtlety of the song writing also relatable. Album highlights, ‘Accessory’ and ‘Over And Out’, pull all of these elements together with ‘Over And Out’ in particular a beautiful, haunting song about the loss of loved ones, capturing the rollercoaster of emotions this can evoke.
Episodic features guest spots from friends and peers, Sadie Dupuis (Speedy Ortiz) on ‘Do You Believe Me’, and Allison Crutchfield (Waxahatchee) and Joseph D’Agostino (Cymbals Eat Guitars) on ‘Out of Context’. All of these guests however do not detract from but instead complement the band. In a genre where the fuzz can become drone and the aesthetics overwhelming, Field Mouse have pushed the boundaries and in the process recorded a dynamic, powerful and absorbing indie rock album.
Episodic is released on August 5th via Topshelf Records and is available to pre-order here.
Upcoming American Tour Dates:
04 – The Boot & Saddle, Philadelphia, PA
06 – Rough Trade NYC, Brooklyn, NY September
08 – Brighton Music Hall, Allston, MA
21 – Will’s Pub, Orlanda, FL
24 – Three Links, Dallas, TX
27 – The Rebel Lounge, Phoenix, AZ
29 – The Echo, Los Angeles, CA
30 – Acerogami, Pomona, CA
03- Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR
07- Metro Bar SLC, Salt Lake City
09- Reverb Lounge, Omaha, NE
10- 7th St Entry, Minneapolis, MN
Words: William Sutton
Photo: Shervin Lainez