Song of the Day: School of Language – Between The Suburbs

photo by Ian West

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Between The Suburbs” by School of Language from the forthcoming 2014 album Old Fears on Memphis Industries.

School of Language – Between The Suburbs (MP3)

Although David Brewis’ work in the Sunderland-based art rock duo Field Music surely provides the studio-crafted base for his work as School of Language, Brewis’s solo project deviates from his day job by tempering his cerebral tendencies with more visceral imagery and instrumentation. While Field Music first went on hiatus in 2007, both David and his brother Peter embarked on solo projects – Peter under the name The Week That Was and David under School of Language, whose debut album Sea From Shore was released in 2008. The brothers soon reconvened work on a new Field Music album, 2012’s Mercury Prize-nominated Plumb. After finishing the touring behind Plumb, the brothers again went on to their own projects, with David contributing to Maximo Park’s Too Much Information, spending time in Eleanor Friedberger’s touring band, and resuming work on the next School of Language release. The lattermost project came to fruition in 2013, resulting in Old Fears, an album that continues Brewis’ knack for using studio-intrinsic, pop-indebted indie rock as a vessel for his examination on, in his own words, “things to do with love and things to do with fear”. Brewis cited early ’00s Neptunes production as a key influence on Old Fears, and the hip-hop duo’s sharply clipped funk can be felt over the cleanly chaotic “Between the Suburbs”. Wobbling modular synths and cut-and-pasted percussion roll around floating guitar lines, and as Brewis’ caustic, Byrne-esque vocals increase in tension (“Growing restless/in isolation… swamp your brains/between the suburbs”), the song’s off-kilter percussion boils into a strangely magnetic rhythm. Brewis isn’t the first to mine suburban ennui as songwriting material, but no one in recent memory has made middle-class Stepford life seem so convincingly claustrophobic or danceable (much less at the same time.)

School of Language will embark on a UK tour behind Old Fears in April, but keep an eye on the Field Music website and School of Language’s Facebook for any updates on more shows or new music. Below, watch the video for School of Language’s 2008 song “Rockist”.

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