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Good Field - “Surface Tension” (2018) review

Good Field - Surface Tension (Self-released, 2018)

Good Field is an indie rock group from Austin, Texas. They’ve got a lot of distortion and a lot of charisma. Picture a peppier Thom Yorke—a phenomenon I would have previously deemed impossible. But, hey, looks like one band has managed to pull it off. Earlier this year the four-member outfit put out their third release, Surface Tension. It’s an LP that sways between finger-bleeding guitar and off-kilter Coldplay-esque atmospheres.

“Necessary Feeling” obviously can’t go unnamed. The group put out a fantastically entertaining video to accompany the opening track as it punches its way right through you. It’s a bare-bones showcase of the group’s amplified fury and angst.

Onto “Naked and Asleep” and we stumble into something quite delicious. Part shoegaze, part dream pop, part generic space rock, I can’t find a crumb of originality. But do I care? Not particularly. The wobbly high-pitched note that hangs above the rest is nothing new, but it gets the job done just fine atop a well-fed bass line. Paul Price, Good Field’s frontman and main vocalist, finds a beautiful space for his dense yet expansive voice, tirelessly soaring above all the rest.

As we reach the center of the album, there’s a dip in memorability—an unfortunate but understandable mark of a band still finding its footing. But by “I Can See for Years” we’re back to a hazy autumn day at the beach with old friends. Heavy riffing and rapid-fire percussion keeps my attention as the melody rises and falls.

The condensed vocals on “I Feel Off” warmly evokes a forgotten Gorillaz track, and “Sparkle Playground” feels uncomfortably self-aware. Finally, “Sometimes” clears our palette. A proto-punk ballad. Still plastic, but this time its cozy polyester. Even a bit nostalgic. It wraps us up and takes us away with its 4/4 drumming and springy refrains, both mixing with a grumbling engine that lurks below. Nothing too abstract. Just wholesome rock n’ roll.

-Gabe Kahan
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