It takes some serious balls to release a double album in an age when Peter Gabriel would rather go bald than wear a fox pelt on his head. Or, as Sunderland's Field Music, an outfit with two brothers at its core, demonstrate, clandestine balls work as well. The band's third full-length is a double album that doesn't telegraph its length.
Although it packs 20 songs into nearly 70 minutes, Field Music (Measure) feels remarkably concise and well-plotted — a series of harmony-rich guitar-pop ditties and resonant motifs that are covertly part of a larger package. The band's melodic rock is tightly controlled and receptive to proggy whims, and it's ironed out with decorous Britishness — think XTC, or ELO minus the lush baggage, or a neutered Yes.
And as the detailed map of the studio and a list of its instruments in the liner notes would imply, the record sounds fantastic — particularly when stereo separation is used to clever effect, as with the panned acoustic guitars that sparkle throughout "Them That Do Nothing." Field Music move from chamber pop ("Measure") to finicky tempos ("Each Time Is a New Time") to nervy funk ("Let's Write a Book") without ever turning their record into a shambling double-album cliché.
FIELD MUSIC | Great Scott, 1222 Comm Ave, Allston | March 21 @ 9 pm | 18+ | $14 | 617.566.9014 orwww.greatscottboston.com