Episodic, the second full-length album from New York quintet Field Mouse finds the band delivering ten slickly produced songs that follow a guitar-based, melodic, driving, alternative rock recipe from track to track. Lead singer/guitarist Rachel Browne has a way of breathily delivering her vocals so that lines often end in a Billy Cogan-esque sigh. Unlike Corgan’s Smashing Pumpkins, however, Field Mouse’s music isn’t built from thickly-layered, effects-laden guitars. Instead, the tracks that make up Episodic lean more toward dream pop through the band’s use of upbeat, optimistic-sounding chord structures, carefully positioned lead parts and feedback-soaked solos, and a crisp (and at times appropriately thunderous) rhythm section.
Episodic crashes in with “The Mirror”, a hard-hitting opening number that introduces Browne’s lovingly and patiently sung vocals amidst quick percussion and a sharp lead riff which repeatedly build to a fun, explosive chorus and bridge. The remaining songs on the record’s first half follow a similar pattern with the tracks’ verses varying slightly in style and tempo from song to song, but all leading to a dynamic chorus. Although predictable, the blueprint works well for the most part, as Browne’s thoughtful, coherent lyrics in conjunction with stellar production provided by Joe Reinhart help to buoy listener interest from one song to the next.
The album’s second side opens with “Beacon”. With its spacious verses and minor turn, along with a fade away fake out three quarters in, the track is an obvious standout, teasing a stylistic changeup for Episodic’s back five. Aside from the mundane misfit “Do You Believe Me Now?” the record’s remaining songs don’t disappoint. The album’s decidedly more mellow, penultimate track, “Never Would Have Known”, allows Browne to explore a bit vocally and slows things down nicely before the record’s similarly tempo’d closer, “Out of Context”, wraps things up, finishing in an appropriate shock of feedback.
While the songs on Episodic never deviate significantly in format, the collection does do a fine job showcasing a formula that works well for Field Mouse’s style of songwriting. Chances are if you like what you hear from the album’s outset, you’re going to enjoy the entire ride.