Rating: 4 out of 5
From the capital of the Mid-West state of Iowa, via the country music capital of Nashville and through to the mountains of Colorado, Field Division have journeyed far and wide to facilitate the release of their debut album. 'Dark Matter Dreams' is the follow up to the 2014 EP release 'Reverie State' and is the result of perseverance and self-belief in the interim.
The Field Division duo of Evelyn Taylor and Nicholas Frampton have stuck with their convictions in pursuit of finally realising their goal. Through robberies, deaths, quitting jobs and a once failed attempt to get the record released they have been undeterred. With a heady scent of the breezy sun-drenched shores of So-Cal and heavily infused with sounds from the inspirational and formative Laurel Canyon scene, 'Dark Matter Dreams' is a sumptuous record full of luscious melodies and soaring harmonies that are brought together in very accomplished arrangements.
From the opening track of the eleven, 'River In Reverse', you are immediately bathed in a wash of sound that sweeps over and completely envelopes you. As the opening chords strike up you could be forgiven for briefly thinking you were just about to hear the line, "On a dark desert highway", as there's definitely a polished AOR, Eagles-cum-Fleetwood Mac feel to the whole sound and production. Evelyn's vocal is to the fore as she sings out across the jangle of guitars and shimmering strings on a wonderful introduction to the album.
'Big Sur' layers the vocals together on a more stripped back but no less harmonious affair as nods to Led Zeppelin are to be heard sweeping across the soundscape in the latter half of the track. 'Farthest Moon' combines the two dominant features of Taylor's country-flavoured vocal and Frampton's polished guitar sound whereas 'Lately' uses Frampton to head-up the vocal whilst Taylor takes more of a backseat role harmonising Frampton's lead.
All of the eleven tracks have clearly been meticulously worked on to arrive at the resultant, all-engulfing sound and the overall product is as cohesive as you'll hear this year. With guest slots from contributors including Midlake's McKenzie Smith, with whom the band also co-produced the album, it is small wonder that the sound is so smooth and lustrous.
The title track of the album, and its shortest, is a wholly instrumental track, as is the sitar driven mid-album track 'Siddhartha', but it is in the layered harmonies and swathes of sound that the album really works at its best. In the ever-building and unfolding story played out on 'Stay' and epic finale of 'This Is How Your Love Destroys Me', Field Division weave together a blend of music that's difficult to resist. Taylor's more melancholic vocal on the last sounds like it is channelling the woes of the world through its iterations as she sings out "I feel all consumed", but the darker mood is turned on its head halfway through as the song breaks into optimist mood. "There's nothing we can't do" is the repeated message as the song continues to build a bigger wall of sound before the final breakdown and acoustic sign-off.
'Dark Matter Dreams' may have taken its time to arrive but arrived it has, and it's a delightful listen, full of massive soundscapes and beautifully captured vocals.