This summer, Field Mouse return from 2014’s melancholic dream-pop offering, Hold Still Life, with their reinvented third album, Episodic. The American quintet have seemingly opted to distance themselves from any previous misconceptions that they are solely a dream-pop band. Instead, the record is punchier from the off, citing pop-punk drum fills and indie-infused riffage.
‘The Mirror’ opens Episodic with a glorious beat and unapologetic rhythm guitars reminiscent of Canada’s Japandroids; and although Rachel Browne is by no means the strongest vocalist out there, the new album’s lead single lends itself to her soft punky vocals which are far more pronounced than in Episodic’s predecessor. Track two, ‘Half-Life’, meanders in with a sombre tone before Browne, amongst killer guitar distortion and feedback, launches into the life-affirming chorus – “I’ve lived more hours than you/ I’ve lived more lives than you”.
Amongst warbling vocal coos and shimmering guitar chords, ‘Accessory’ lyrically provides more confessionalism through “I don’t do well with chaos/ but not too good with plans” before being shortly followed, ironically, by poppy number, ‘The Order of Things’.
Coming in at just over half an hour, ‘A Widow with a Terrible Secret’ marks Episodic’s longest track at 3:48, although remarkably seems to feature less transition than any other song. ‘Over and Out’ and closing track ‘Out of Context’ more than make up for this, however. The latter particularly demonstrates this while truly embodying the semantics of the album title: Episodic; it’s disjointed and experimental nature marking it as a clear element of the record, separated from the rest.
It feels as though Field Mouse have tried something a little less risque than Hold Still Life and debut album, You Are Here, which more or less pays off with Episodic’s set of easy-listening songs. However, with a lack of conviction of vocals in the punkier numbers and a lack of overall narrative, fans of Field Mouse may be left a little underwhelmed.