A whole crop of young, critically acclaimed post-punk bands emerged in the UK around 2020. It’s tough to keep up – I can barely differentiate Dry Cleaning from Black Country, New Road. My favourite of the crop is probably Squid, a five-piece band that originated in Brighton. Squid are fans of 1970s German bands like Neu! and Can, giving them an arty edge.
The band released a series of singles like’ The Dial’, ‘Houseplants’ and ‘The Cleaner’, the latter recalling the funky sound of Talking Heads. None of these singles were included on their debut album.
The band consists of lead singer and drummer Ollie Judge, guitarists Louis Borlase and Anton Pearson, bassist Laurie Nankivell, and keyboardist Arthur Leadbetter
Squid Album Reviews
Bright Green Field
This debut album from Brighton band Squid is fun, the group pairing the intensity of post-punk with other influences. Squid cite Can and Neu! as an influence, and their appreciation of these 1970s German acts is manifested in the motorik beat of ‘Paddling’ and the repetitive and lengthy closer ‘Pamphlets’.
Drummer/singer Ollie Judge is charismatic, somewhere between the abrasive vocals of Mark E. Smith and the paranoid yelp of David Byrne. His distinctive voice gives Bright Green Field a cohesive feel, even as Squid try out a bunch of different ideas on their debut. The abrasive use of brass instruments on ‘Documentary Filmmaker’, played by bassist Laurie Nankivell, recalls 1970s King Crimson. They have plenty of ideas – ‘Boy Racers’ changes from groove-based post-punk to spooky ambient. They can play unsettling funk on ‘G.S.K.’ while ‘Global Groove’ is often stately and gorgeous.
Squid have enough personality and chops to make Bright Green Field a fascinating debut album. It opens up plenty of possibilities for future Squid records to explore.
Squid’s second record, O Monolith is more insular and less accessible than their debut, but it also expands the band’s range, hopefully setting them up for a long career. They describe the album as more pastoral – if their debut was located in a city, O Monolith is situated in the countryside. They recorded the record at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in Wiltshire.
Real World is a James Bond baddie base from which Peter Gabriel is planning on taking over the world. Dan [Carey]’s studio is an old Post Office room in south London.
The funky beat of ‘Undergrowth’ is an unexpected direction for the band, but it works, backing their squiggly riffs. Squid cited Talk Talk and These New Puritans as influences for O Monolith, and the more textural moments on songs like ‘Swing (In a Dream)’ and ‘Green Light’ reflect this. There’s less post-punk intensity than before, but songs like ‘The Blades’ build to cathartic climaxes.
I found O Monolith difficult to fully embrace. But there’s a solid record here, suggesting possibilities for the future.