**by String Bean Jen (whom you can find over at bowlie.com)
Have you ever wished that your life was really tragic or so romantic (or both, as one inevitably leads to the other) that it inspired mass numbers of beautiful pop songs? To me, the aching, wistful songs of the Field Mice embody this longing to not only be someone’s muse, but to return the favor, and create little mementos of times so lovingly spent.
I feel like I came to the Field Mice late, about three years ago when I received a burned copy of the two-disc retrospective, ”Where’d you Learn to Kiss that Way?” I knew I’d probably like it because they are a much-revered band in indie pop circles, and I was starting to go backwards in learning about, and consuming indie pop.
I once read a quote that said the Field Mice were the link between The Smiths and New Order. As ridiculous an example of simple-minded music journo categorizing as that sentence is, it’s not too far off, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a huge fan of both bands. Robert Wratten writes lyrics that can affect the sensitive, yearning soul just as much as Morrissey’s have affected hordes of bedsit romantics. In fact, they are more affecting because they are much more transparent and so very personal. I don’t know the full history of their relationship, but Robert wrote many of the Field Mice’s songs for his girlfriend Annemarie, who was also in the band, though they did break up while the band were still together. Though many of the band’s most heartbreaking songs may be for Annemarie, it is easy to insert yourself into the songs. Falling in love is so perfected in “Everything About You,” where even hearing the other person’s name on someone else gives you shivers. When I was in a long distance relationship, “September’s Not So Far Away” was a glimmer of hope for me, a heavy sigh, but still a light at the end of the tunnel. On that note, “Coach Station Reunion” is such a rush, with call and response boy-girl vocals that elatedly sing about the kisses they’ll receive tomorrow. It’s not just about your lover/girl/partner/boy, though, who doesn’t get butterflies in their stomach when meeting a friend or family member at the airport or bus terminal after time spent apart?
On that New Order comparison, the Field Mice started with Robert and his friend Michael and a drum machine. That drum machine was persistent throughout the beginning of their time, and slightly faded away as years passed. The juxtaposition between Bobby’s (can I call him Bobby?) soft, fey voice and the myriad of 80s-style beats that they used is, in my opinion, very, very cool and set them apart from any of their contemporaries. They also bathed some songs in vast swathes of synths which often set a bittersweet, melancholy mood. Some of my favorite songs where this worked really well are “Let’s Kiss and Makeup,” “This Love is Not Wrong,” and “Missing the Moon.”
The mighty LTM re-released all three Field Mice albums with attached singles last year. As far as I’m concerned – nevermind snobby music critics - they are all must haves, and are collections that you will return to over and over again.
Everything About You