Squid: Modern-Day Dystopian Sounds

Emily Zemler on October 19, 2021
Squid: Modern-Day Dystopian Sounds

Squid’s debut album, Bright Green Field, reflects the unconventional songwriting style the members of English quintet have explored since they first came together a few years ago while they were still in college. “We’ve gone through lots of phases, and we have tried all these new approaches to writing music,” guitarist/vocalist Louis Borlase notes. “If there is one thing that’s changed, hopefully, it is that there’s more detail and focus in what we’re doing now. We like to think of writing as a linear process—there’s a start and an end and lots of room for things to land in places along the way, but they’re relatively indeterminable. We try not to be too prescribed and, most important, it’s very collective.”

Last year, after the band canceled their tour dates early on in the pandemic rather than wait for government instruction, they signed with Warp Records and got to work on their album. The musicians recorded the LP in producer Dan Carey’s home studio in Streatham, at times expanding their sonic palette to include a horn section, string ensemble and even church bells. The result is a dynamic, experimental post-punk album that celebrates uncertainty.

“The biggest challenge was to navigate what it meant to be arriving at someone’s family house in the middle of a pandemic,” Borlase says. “We had to be very communicative and to make sure that we were all on the same page when it came to staying safe and healthy.” Borlase says that they initially stumbled on the album’s direction while working on the grooving, energized “G.S.K.,” excitedly digging into a mix of “industrial sounds, rhythms and textures.” (He even compares drummer Oliver Judge’s vocals on the cut to “a public address to citizens of a city—from atop a tall building next to the motorway.”)

The musicians penned a big book of lyric ideas throughout the pandemic and found an accidental common thread in everything they were writing. “A theme that repeatedly cropped up was loneliness,” Borlase says. “During the writing process, we were interested in dystopian fiction and film, but also by reflections of those ideas in societal issues.”

The band recently got back on the road, embarking on a socially distanced tour through the U.K. It marks the first time they’ve been in front of an audience in over a year, as well as the first time that several of the album’s tracks have actually been performed live. “We’re going to continue to write and there’s a substantial touring schedule on the docket,” Borlase says. “So keeping busy seems to be the general theme of 2021, which is all we can hope for.”