Fantastic though it was, Field Music's self-titled debut slipped under the radar thanks to the increased publicity for fellow North Eastern bands The Futureheads and Maximo Park. A shame because Field Music use pop nostalgia too but they reference the unfashionable acts of the 1970s: XTC, Wings or 10CC for example. Whether 'Tones Of Town' redresses that balance is open to question given that it's essentially a concept album about modern working life but releasing it a time where there's little competition may prove to be a great move.
'Tones Of Town' is certainly less immediate than its predecessor. Songs follow an unstructured - almost prog-rock - path but still usually clock in under the three-minute mark. Their key ingredients remain: a 1970s rock template, harmonies arrive at the most unexpected of times (like on the otherwise muted 'Sit Tight') and some rolling piano melodies. 'A House Is Not A Home' is one of those tracks to be based on such a piano melody and its chorus, bolstered by strings and a guitar hook reminiscent of Wings' own 'Band On The Run, is a delight. Similarly, 'Working To Work' and 'She Can Do What She Wants' have all the hallmarks of great pop songwriting.
Yet underneath all the seemingly sunny disposition there is a darker message, encapsulated on 'Kingston' with its lyric of "You work hard you get paid, but what's the sense it really makes no difference".
Not unti the eighth track 'A Gap Has Appeared' does the malaise come to the surface but then it segues into the unashamedly catchy 'Closer At Hand' only to be usurped again by the aching, melancholic 'Place Yourself'. So even though it's an album of mixed emotions, Field Music have produced another consistently excellent set of tunes.