Taking their sloganeering moniker from a satirical ‘60s British newsreel hosted by David Frost (who was recently popularized in acclaimed Frost/Nixon movie), The Week That Was is the outstanding offshoot project of Field Music co-founder Peter Brewis. A former drummer in quirky indie-pop enthusiasts, the Futureheads, the 31-year-old Sunderland native grew up just outside England’s historic harbored metropolis, Newcastle, listening to his parents’ Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin, Police, and Peter Gabriel albums as an impressionable youngster.
As the sole musical architecture of The Week That Was, Brewis has created an episodic orchestral suite in which he appropriates Stravinsky’s thematic classical provocations, Van Dyke Parks’ skewed pop idiosyncrasies, and Left Banke’s oblique psychedelic tranquility. Making what may be deemed “magical outsider art,” he has moved beyond ma and pa’s efficient album collection and away from Field Music’s somewhat rockier guitar-based purges with The Week That Was. Darkly illuminating piano embellishments, eloquently detailed violin and cello anesthetics, plus recurring Oriental-styled gamelan and marimba ornamentation secure Brewis’ resourceful dramatic musings.
“There are many variations upon the melancholy theme,” the cautiously conferring Brewis submits. “All of the songs are about missing certain things, whether it be people or things you’re used to, like voices on the radio and TV. The songs imagine if a certain thing wasn’t there. I try to put myself into different frames of mind like I’m a character—which I don’t do in Field Music.”
Auspiciously, Field Music remains an ongoing priority partnering Brewis with his brother, David (currently promoting stripped down “freak pop” combo, School Of Language), and school pal Andrew Moore (keyboards), but has been left to simmer while each brother concentrates on separate endeavors. The amicable trio’s eponymous ’05 debut and its improved ’07 Towns On Town follow-up camouflaged deceptive cheerfulness with substantive grief, using intricate pop constructions to get aggrieved messages across.
“On our first Field Music album, I guess we tried to figure out a way of creating language for ourselves through the music we knew and experimented with,” Brewis presumes. “It has a dry, clinical sound, but was quite nice in a nostalgic way. The second has a more luscious sound. It was done democratically and was concise in a non-conventional way. Then, when Dave and I wanted to do something outside of Field Music, I started The Week That Was.”
Using a laptop as a compositional tool to arrange songs, Brewis began navigating through material selected for his succinct one-off undertaking. On the resulting self-titled The Week That Was entree, he drapes debonair baritone sweetness atop duskily contemplative abstractions, fashioning an ambitiously symphonic allegory. On the album’s proverbial “stress track,” an old school ‘50s-dated black and white video affixes itself to the sweeping industrial-bound marimba-imbued bass-drummed gauntlet, “Learn To Learn.”