THIS wistful record kicks off with the soothing vocals of Rachel Browne cutting cleanly through a fuzzy blur of guitars on the opener, ‘A Place You Return to in a Dream’…and just from that sentence, mental comparisons with My Bloody Valentine are already been drawn up. Of course, it’s only natural to recognise such parallels of new artists like Field Mouse with the bands that pioneered a sound that is clearly such a massive influence to them, but it’s never that simple is it? If anything, the poppy hooks and grungy guitar sounds bring Hold Life Still closer to the noise created by Silversun Pickups than any 90’s shoegaze artists. Nonetheless, I’m going to stop name-dropping other bands- Field Mouse deserve better.
Although Browne and guitarist Andrwe Futral have been writing and performing in the form of Field Mouse for some time, it is only recently that the line-up has been completed with the addition of bassist Saysha Heinzman, and drummer Tim McCoy. In that sense, this debut LP is marking a new chapter for the band in more ways than you’d expect. That being said, you would have never have guessed it just by listening, and the rhythm section fits right in.
From the synth-laden, bouncy bridge of ‘Two Ships’ to the thudding anguish packed into the verses of ‘Asteroid’, there’s variety in this record. Though what’s impressive about this diversity, is that it’s woven into the fabric of the songs so seamlessly that you don’t get a jarring feeling that you so often find when there’s been an attempt to write a “danceable track”, for example. The result of this subtlety in the song-writing is a well-rounded album that at no point drops in quality.
The album closer ‘Water in the Valley’ packs one of the hardest punches that Hold Life Still has to offer, with an ethereal blend of distortion and clean melodies that really comes as a cure for the itch for something a bit more sonically hard-hitting. Along with the more delicate penultimate track ‘Kids’, ‘Water In The Valley’ provides a change in pace and intensity that the album really needs. If it wasn’t for this fantastic end to the album, you’d be forgiven for accusing Hold Life Still of being a bit single paced.
Field Mouse are a delight to listen to. They haven’t created a perfect record by any stretch of the imagination (or even the most original), but that doesn’t stop Hold Life Still holding up as a fantastic case study of what 40 minutes of utterly enchanting dream pop should sound like.