Brighton’s Squid are following the classic formula for releasing singles prior to an album: first single needs to bang, second single needs to explore more atmospheric spheres. Luckily, the post-punk revivalists are masters of atmospherics and commanders of dynamics. While the first single from their impending album, Bright Green Field, “Narrator”, was a riotous burst of frenzied energy, the second single, “Paddling”, kicks back, leans on a simple drum loop and makes excellent use of negative space.
“Paddling” builds organically from nothing, layering up synths and guitars over the loop until it organically reaches the place you know a Squid song is going to get to at some point. Squid have never been shy of wearing their influences on their rolled up sleeves. Krautrock, Talking Heads and Television all get a heavy nod here, but it’s all wrangled in to a vision which manages to transcend these comparisons. You will not see a single press photo of Squid nihilistically sneering, they usually look like they’re having brilliant fun, which already separates them from their peers.
The lyrics are apparently a statement on consumerism, although I did have to read that in a press quote rather than gleam it from the song. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that a message has more of an effect if it is not wrapped up in impenetrable poetic verse.
“There are people, there are people inside
And they’re changing and shaping in size
Where you going, don’t wanna go there
You comb your hair and you tense the muscle”
Of course, I could be wrong, and Squid’s warning against the vanity and narcissism of humanity may be seeping in to the awareness of apathetic music nerds on a subconscious level. If this is the case, I can only apologise for my bitter cynicism.
The track reaches the crescendo in the last 2 minutes, and you know these are the bits which are going to be incredible when Squid can play live again. The promotional tour for Bright Green Field might be the most technically accomplished and joyously unhinged tour in the immediate post-Brexit landscape. For now, all we can do is order more unnecessary enhancements to our home stereo systems and anxiously await the album’s release on Warp Records.
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