The band Squid seated on rocks on a shoreline
Credit: Holly Whitaker

The five members of London band Squid are architectural engineers who plot points of distinction for listeners to marvel at—or, as vocalist and drummer Ollie Judge sings on “Narrator,” off their 2021 debut, Bright Green Field (Warp), they “mold beauty out of clay.” The 2020 single “Broadcaster” consists mostly of a description of outdoor environs and listening to a voice beamed through the air, but the band’s tendency to set their construction projects atop music colored by a whirling succession of influences might make lyrical nuance tough to decipher; Judge’s alternately deadpan and screamy vocal delivery from behind the kit recalls the punky portions of Neu!, the nihilism of the Fall’s Mark E. Smith, and the no-wave yelps of James Chance, among other things. The music Squid have cultivated is broader, though. Along with referencing Gang of Four’s funk-punk polemics and mid-period Kraftwerk, they touch on London’s contemporary jazz scene, including a guest spot from rising multi-instrumentalist Emma-Jean Thackray on the spindly “Paddling.” They also cover experimental 20th-century composer Steve Reich on a pandemic-times recording to benefit the East Bristol Food Bank, and they reference dystopian sci-fi novels in interviews. As taut and visceral as Bright Green Field sounds, the live renditions of these songs could top the record—with any luck they’ll reach the fever pitch of the band’s 2019 single, “Houseplants,” which underlines their statement of purpose, musically and philosophically. “And I find myself looking for a future that doesn’t exist,” Judge shrieks. “This is my beautiful house and I can’t afford to live in it.” Here Squid build up the white-picket-fence myth only to tear it down with motorik rhythms, down-stroked guitar, cornet filigree, and the sound of the well-read and cultured giving themselves over to utter abandon.

Squid, Sharkula x Mukqs Sat 11/13, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, sold out, 21+

Squid, Sharkula x Mukqs Sun 11/14, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, sold out, 21+