“How many more Camera Obscura knock offs do we need?” asks one bearded record hound to another while both plug away on twitter about how stiff Joanna Gruesome shows have become. It’s nonetheless a good point to address – yet the answer (happily) eludes us with Boo, Forever, the debut from Field Guides.
In the vein of meticulously crafted jangle-noise, the Brooklyn based collective pull off the infectious twee sound that is now so rarely executed with originality. An undertaking that took nearly ten years to complete was originally a solo endeavor, helmed by songwriter Benedict Kupstas. The project grew exponentially over the course of its creation, involving over a dozen musicians. Though the album was recorded in Brooklyn and mixed in Woodstock, Kupstas integrated field recordings as close to home as Pennsylvania and as far reaching as South Korea.
Certainly true to the band’s moniker, Field Guides is a veritable palette of geographic sounds. That aspect lends Boo, Forever that much more credibility, assuring that one can stick it to their twee-hating pals that Field Guides is actively doing something different. More an itinerary a decade in the making rather than an album release, Boo, Forever chronicles an outstanding amount of time and ground covered in its totality. It’s difficult not to approach Kupstas’ end result of orchestration without viewing it as novel-like.
At only 8 tracks, the album does an impressive job showcasing the rotating cast of musicians and myriad instruments (see: glockenspiel accompanied with two parts violin and synth.) “A Song After Grace” kicks off the album at a whopping 8 minutes, therein setting a righteous tone. Boo, Forever ought to be ingested as a whole – our old kinship with the track-by-track method simply won’t satisfy one’s palette.
However, this isn’t to say that Field Guides doesn’t produce worthwhile songs with merits on their own. The standout single, “Lisa Loeb Probably Never Pierced Her Ears” best exemplifies the shimmery If You’re Feeling Sinister sound. “Peggy Asked A Question & The Answer Is ‘Yes’ and ‘Let’s Keep Dancing’ ” is not only a perfectly twee conclusion to our geographical journey, but damn it all if it isn’t the perfectly twee response that’s been too long coming.
Field Guides produces something that this reviewer has certainly never had the pleasure of listening to – an opus collected in under 9 songs. A project unfolds before you, rather than the quick-draw buckshot of someone too influenced by a late 80’s alt band that we’ve all become too comfortable with as the impetus for a release. Here’s hoping that 2024 isn’t the next release from Kupstas et. all, though surely it wouldn’t serve anyone poorly if it were.
Born and raised on classic rock and oldies, Jake Tully consumed music voraciously growing up in Central California. He has his wonderful grandparents to thank for his love of music, as well as the amazing luck to have seen hundreds of concerts in his lifetime. He considers himself an eclectic consumer of all media, and further reading can be found at his blog.