Is Squid the most inspired post-punk band in music right now?

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Is Squid the most inspired post-punk band in music right now?

Words by Holly Whitaker
Words by Tom Parker

We caught up with the rising UK five-piece to chat about their debut album, Bright Green Field.

Not often does a time come along where a band or artist stops me in my tracks, inciting transcendent emotions of “what the fuck is this?” in all the best ways.

Squid are one of those bands.

Dripping with a refreshing absurdity that pop or radio-conscious music abstains from, Squid throw paint at the wall to manifest incongruent artworks that shouldn’t work, but do.

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They’re part of 2021’s lively post-punk convoy – one that also boasts the likes of Crack Cloud, Ought, Fontaines D.C. and Viagra Boys, to name a few, but Squid are uniquely Squid – Ollie Judge’s riotous bleating is vital, the band’s instrumentation is rowdy but wonderfully spacious and perhaps most importantly, Squid just don’t give a fuck.

If you think I’m off with the fairies, go and listen to their song, ‘Houseplants’.

On Friday May 7, the UK rockers delivered their debut album, Bright Green Field. Out on Warp Records, the album sees Squid extend their tentacles into deeper trenches.

What began as muck-around post-punk on the band’s early tracks materialises into something darker and more ominous. It feels symbolic of today’s anti-utopia, but Squid’s process is not so categorical.

“In the same way that we approach writing, conscious decision is often left as a secondary option and we often feel where each other are at, both musically and lyrically, and react to that within a rehearsal room,” Squid bass and trumpet player, Laurie Nankivell, says.

“I think in the same way that the world’s events naturally filter into our music, there’s often no conscious decision around, ‘We’re going to write a song about Brexit, we’re going to write a song about the coronavirus’, and there definitely wasn’t with this album.

“I think you can probably tell that the album has quite a morose feel and quite a bleak, dystopic feel, and to me, that just seems completely obvious, like, we’re living in a dystopia – the world isn’t in a very good place, so naturally the themes of the album aren’t going to be very good.”

Navigate ‘Resolution Square’ – Bright Green Field’s 40-second intro – and come face-to-face with deep sea creatures before ‘G.S.K.’ establishes Squid’s lyrical and musical foothold. Abstract imaginations highlight issues of globalisation as British multinational pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline comes into the firing line.

‘Paddling’ is Bright Green Field’s most danceable number but isn’t any more optimistic, keeping us in the cynical saddle as consumerism runs riot. Closing on ‘Pamphlets’, Judge has officially lost his marbles, channelling the insanity of an agoraphobic who doesn’t leave his home and is only informed by the propaganda pushed through his mail flap.

It’s an apocalyptic ride, but the album serves a greater purpose than turning the world’s injustices upside down and inside out, it’s also a vital piece of musicianship – a transcendent journey of energy and sound.

“I feel like as well, on the surface level for us, finding out more about the album from each other, we’re aware of, as Laurie says, this ‘dystopic’ thing, that’s very easy to digest and understand, but, I think there’s a huge amount of hope within the album as well,” Squid guitarist and singer, Louis Borlase, says.

“Just by putting together our five minds and responding to the often-dystopian elements of the every day, we’re also able to – at least to us – make something that we find very exciting and very beautiful out of it, and that’s just kind of the winding, unfurling nature of music.”

As we begin to see the other side of COVID-19, there’s the prospect of Squid returning to the stage in the not-too-distant future. So how will the ethereal Bright Green Field appear on the live stage? All Borlase can say is, expect the unexpected.

“There’s music [on the record] that we could most likely just listen back to the recording and create a carbon copy emulation of what you hear on the record [to play live],” Borlase says. “But I think because it’s been so long, we haven’t played it, we’ve kind of got more of an interest to address all the things that we always wanted to do when we were writing the songs about playing it live.

“So, I think it’s fair to say people shouldn’t expect always the same renditions and studio versions when it comes to playing them live again, I think we want to take them to some slightly more interesting places that are a bit more site-specific to the venue and who we’ve got on stage with us at the time.”

Squid’s new album, Bright Green Field, is out now via Warp Records. Check it out here.