Album of the Week: The Field Mice’s Snowball (1989)

Takin’ it back to ’89! Well, back to 2011 for me, the year I first heard this classic album by The Field Mice. I think I was looking for more stuff like Magnetic Fields, the ultimate Field band (shoutout to The Field and Field Music though), which led me down the “twee” rabbit hole.

When you talk about twee pop you talk about the UK’s Sarah Records. The Bristol imprint founded in 1987 thrived on pressing cute, catchy indie pop. The Field Mice’s debut single “Emma’s House” remains a staple in the subgenre, and even its cover art is twee. Less than a year later, the band released their debut album Snowball on Sarah in all its twee glory. “Couldn’t Feel Safer” is, indeed, about feeling completely secure in the arms of a lover.

Snowball isn’t all overly cutesy, though. I think the 3 minute instrumental opening to the album really draws the listener in, and there’s some ambiguity there. Like, is this some kind of Durrutti Column type shit, or “Alternative Dance” or something? Nope, The Field Mice have lyrics, and they’re precious. But not overkill. And I think what helps with that is the laid-back vocal delivery. Robert Wratten doesn’t have the range or emotional delivery of someone like Morrissey, but the songs and the sound make up for that.

“End of the Affair” always had me in my feelings with those lil MIDI horns (I think that’s what they are), “This Love is Not Wrong” makes me want to dance. “Everything About You”‘s guitars ring out like “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, which makes sense – is there a more twee Beatles song? And for a twee pop album it ends on a fairly dark note with the frigid “Letting Go”. Perfect!

It isn’t the most complex record ever made, but it is potent. And to me, it’s very innocent. I’ve listened to some other music from The Field Mice and related side projects, but nothing has struck me quite like this one. It’s one that takes me back to being 16, but is not at all difficult to appreciate in the present.

Listen to Snowball here.

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