Field Ceremony will be released in digital, CD and Vinyl LP on the 16th of October, between labels Seksound (Pia Fraus’ own label, releasing other Estonian indie bands) in Europe, Shelflife (Airiel, Flyying Colours, Ice Choir, Pinkshinyultrablast) in the US, and Vinyl-Junkie Records (Astrobrite, Medicine, Placebo, The Black Ryder) in Japan.
Pia Fraus returns with their characteristically youthful interplay of distorted, rumbling guitars and twinkling, shimmering synthesizers, in the vein of bands like Asobi Seksu, Tears Run Rings, Beach Fossils, and obviously a bit of My Bloody Valentine’s DNA is present too. It’s their first full-length album since 2008’s After Summer (not counting multiple EPs since, including one this year as well as a split with Rocketship months ago.) There is a heavy sense of pent-up propulsion in these songs, so I suppose it is somehow fitting that we’ve waited this long for them; each song fires by like blurred lights you’ve stared at for too long, like the comet trails left behind from a fast moving plane on a gloomy early morning flight to somewhere better than here.
The fifth track is called “No Filters Needed” which feels like a good statement that defines in some ways this entire album; you know what you’re getting when you listen to the band, and yet there’s something innocent and earnest in approaching it outside of any preconceptions or lenses & filters. Most of the tracks indeed have idyllic or natural-hearkening titles, like “Autumn Winds”, “Mountain Trip Guide” or “Endless Clouds”, and there is certainly an element of pastoral, gentle beauty possessed within this album. The album art, plains or a field populated by stark-white figures of wind fans under a grey sky filled with layers of clouds, certainly evokes this. This might make you think you’ll hear a lazy, completely ambient-obsessed album; however the propulsion in the band almost verges on sugar-high teenage excitement, and they don’t waste a moment. There wasn’t a moment on the album where I felt a song dragged on for too long than was perfect or groovy; for a sub-genre that often dips into decadent repetition and self-indulgent droning, this is an accomplishment. There is even an element of Stereolab’s krautrock jamming in what Pia Fraus does; something I could strongly see here on this album.
Not all of these songs are over-stimulated, wistfully “indie” tunes; track eight is the lumbering, slow-burning, and almost gothic “Don’t Tell Me How” which precedes heavy MBV-at-the-Beach “Brutal Truth of the World”, the penultimate track, which expands from the preceding song into something that feels painfully personal and almost tragic. It felt like someone tightening their hold on my hand before saying a last goodbye for a long time of distance. It’s almost at odds with the first half of the album, yet there’s a strong cohesion in instrumentation and atmosphere that remains throughout. The youthful crash forward is a fight against shoegazing shyness, and almost any song can be a bold declaration of emotion or love. In fact, we close the album with the cheekily titled “That’s Not All”, which keeps the MBV vibes alive with groaning guitars, a tastefully submerged bass line, pounding drums and Pia Fraus’ perpetually adorable twin-vocals. The song ends quickly, but is perhaps just long enough to cheer up anyone who the preceding track may have fooled into thinking they were listening to something much more dark, but no less angsty. It left a sweet taste behind, the first taste we’ve had of Pia Fraus’ cute electronic-fuzzy dreampop in quite a while. The band once again leaves us with a humble contribution to a genre they have lovingly devoted much to, an offering that is refreshingly not at all outdated, but still familiar.