ALBUM REVIEW: Squid – ‘Bright Green Field’

Squid are one of those bands whose output has been steadily growing in quality through the last couple of years, which makes their debut album Bright Green Field one of the 2021 records I was awaiting most eagerly. It contains some familiar tunes and a good number of bold new ideas, packaged together in an album which, save for a couple hiccups with jarring transitions between tracks, flows well and maintains a high-energy buzz throughout. It has some longer tracks which don’t feel overlong – something rare and extremely nice to see these days – and a crisp production which gives the band ample space to do what they do best.

There is a growing feeling that a new music genre is emerging with some of the younger bands on the UK scene, something that preserves elements of post-punk while heading in a completely different direction. In Squid’s case, that direction includes incorporating glam-pop and jazz elements, tying them together with characteristic vocals – coloured with a manic note without ever going out of control – and a clever use of subtle distortion that makes you feel like there’s an interference always on the verge of cutting in but never quite breaking through. Single ‘Narrator,’ one of the most striking tracks on the record, is an excellent example of this, but there are others: ‘Documentary Filmmaker‘ delivers possibly the best version of this carefully executed blending of elements already from its surprisingly mellow intro, offering a backdrop to spoken-word lyrics before dropping in pace and morphing into something more haunting. ‘Global Groove,’ which has some of the most interesting vocals, is the one place where we feel, right towards the end, that this interference has fully materialised, and we can finally hear it – in the fragmented guitar sound and the distortion becoming more manifest.

The jazzy contaminations are one of the most intriguing things in this record, and are not just due to a pointed use of brass – at this point fast becoming a staple of the UK rock scene, and something I hope we will see more bands play with. Squid do so confidently, aided by an excellent command of a guitar sound that is bold, and in places blunt, without being overwhelming.

Some of the other tracks have a tinge of late ‘70s not-quite-yet-New-Wave, something Bowie would have probably called ‘plastic soul’ (listening to ‘G.S.K.‘ without thinking of Young Americans is not easy, but the track has a mood all its own, blending brass interjections into its rock structure). Others are more wildly experimental, smoothly inserting elements of sound from different backgrounds into a structure built by the rhythm section, especially the excellent drumming, which delivers changes of pace without breaking the flow (‘Paddling,’ for instance, has something to it that is almost techno, almost prog rock, and ultimately something else still). There’s an ever-present, faint but almost always there, lo-fi contamination emerging more clearly in places, as in the early section of ‘2010,’ another track with a sudden change of mood which juxtaposes these eerily softer sections with a scratchy hard rock guitar while still managing to hold it all together (once again, the drums are to credit for providing a much needed baseline).

The post-punk edge comes out loud and clear in those tracks where the rhythm section sets a more hammering pace, as for instance with ‘Boy Racers,’ or with the relentless ‘Peel St.,’ a high-powered cavalcade introducing the final stretch of the record after the hazy interlude of ‘The Flyover‘. ‘Pamphlets,’ the closing track, wraps up the album with a more traditional guitar sound, perhaps fittingly for a record which is daring and experimental but still very conscious of its roots.

There is some repetition of patterns: many tracks have an unexpected opening which then changes into something else, and the band relies heavily on changes in pace. There are moments in which one wishes for some more diversity in structure, but it is a pet peeve: the pattern is there because it works, and its very nature makes it versatile, allowing the band to play with it and at the same time providing a necessary unity to a record that brings in so many ideas and suggestions. As a debut album, Bright Green Field is a clear statement of intent, and as the last notes of its last track descend into carefully planned, deceptively structured chaos, there is a feeling that this record is a trampoline from which Squid are ready to jump into some intriguing great unknown.

Squid’s Bright Green Field is to be released on Friday, 7th May via WARP Records – and is available to Pre-Order on various formats and bundles, here.

Squid will be touring the new album throughout 2021, starting with a socially distanced UK tour ahead of a headline run which takes in European and US dates as well:


19.05.21 -The Cornish Bank, Falmouth, UK
20.05.21 – May St Mary’s, Totnes, UK
22.05.21 – The Cube, Bristol, UK *
26.05.21 – Old Road Tavern, Chippenham, UK*
28.05.21 – The Adelphi, Hull, UK *
01.06.21 – The Leadmill, Sheffield 
02.06.21 – Stoller Hall, Manchester, UK*
05.06.21 – Silver Building, London, UK *
07.06.21 – The Halls, Norwich, UK
09.06.21 – De Le Warr Pavillion, Bexhill, UK
12.06.21 – Cliftonville Community Hall, Margate, UK 

* two shows back to back 


07.09.21 – Concorde 2, Brighton, UK 
09.09.21 – Marble Factory, Bristol, UK 
10.09.21 – Albert Hall, Manchester, UK 
23.09.21 – Printworks, London, UK 
24.09.21 – The Crossing, Birmingham 
25.09.21 – Rock City, Nottingham, UK 
27.09.21 – NUSU, Newcastle, UK 
28.09.21 – SW3, Glasgow, UK 
29.09.21 – Empire, Belfast, UK 
30.09.21 – Button Factory, Dublin, Ireland
03.10.21 – Tramshed, Cardiff, UK 
04.10.21 – 1865, Southampton, UK
05.10.21 – The Phoenix, Exeter, UK 
07.10.21 – Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands 
08.10.21 – Botanique, Brussels, Belgium 
09.10.21 – Trabendo, Paris, France 
11.10.21 – Bumann & Sohn, Cologne, Germany
12.10.21 – Molotow Skybar, Hamburg, Germany
15.10.21 – Plan B, Malmo, Sweden
16.10.21 – Melodybox, Stockholm, Sweden
18.10.21 – Berghain Kantine, Berlin, Germany
19.10.21 – Underdogs’, Prague, Czechia
21.10.21 – Heppel & Ettlich, Munich, Germany
23.10.21 – Bogen F, Zurich, Switzerland
24.10.21 – Bad Bonn, Düdingen, Switzerland
25.10.21 – Magnolia, Milan, Italy
26.10.21 – Locomotiv, Bologna, Italy
28.10.21 – Upload, Barcelona, Spain
29.10.21 – Independence. Madrid, Spain 
30.10.21 – Masterclub, Vigo, Spain


09.11.21 – Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia, PA
10.11.21 – Mercury Lounge, New York, NY
12.11.21 – Beachland Tavern, Cleveland, OH
13.11.21 – Empty Bottle, Chicago, IL
17.11.21 – Moroccan Lounge, Los Angeles, CA
19.11.21 – Constellation Room, Santa Ana, CA
20.11.21 – Rickshaw Stop, San Francisco, CA
22.11.21 – Doug Fir, Portland, OR
23.11.21 – Crocodile, Seattle, WA

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Chiara Strazzulla
Chiara was born in Sicily and lives in Cardiff, where she is a freelance journalist and teacher of Classics. She is an internationally published novelist and has collaborated with a variety of publications both in English and Italian. She has been a music lover her whole life, and her taste in music ranges from glam rock to punk by way of blues and country.

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