Sense Field – Review

Sense Field

(Warner)
by Tim Den

Whenever someone puts on Sense Field‘s ’96 album, Building, I stop what I’m doing and close my eyes. Imagining angels singing, I can almost feel a stream of divinity flow through me as the songs rage on. I love that album. It made me a die-hard fan for life, so you can imagine my enthusiasm for its follow-up. Having waited two long fuckin’ years for this thing, I have to say I was expecting more. Maybe it’s because Building was so perfect in its balance of momentum and emotion (and astounding in its melodic originality) that I just couldn’t accept the dramatic change of pace of this record. So here it is: Sense Field has gone acoustic. Yes, Jimmy Eat World pulled off just as a dramatic step, but it worked for them because their songs remained intact. Sense Field, however, has compromised their originality and potency in the slowing-down process.

Where songs on Building were crammed with emotion, this new batch seem tired and stricken with ADD. Mid to slow tempos, accompanied by over-saturated layers of guitars (c’mon guys, let’s leave the studio trickery to the ones who know how to use ’em properly) and frivolous “undertones” (tweaks, squeaks, and ominous keyboard passages that really don’t add much), this self-titled record is a too-eager attempt at art pop that’s sacrificed the band’s brilliance. Replaced by wondering, lost-in-a-mist vocals and uneventful structure, the once-gloriously rollercoaster crescendos have disappeared. There was nothing wrong with Building‘s acoustic-meets-rock combination, so why fuck with it? While I’m the first to chose progression over stagnation, this progression turns out less than the original formula. There are some songs on here that recall Sense Field’s glory days (“War of the Worlds” and “One More Time Around”), but they don’t match up to the band’s reputation. So until reaction from this album kicks in, I can only wear out my copy of Building some mo