Ruby Fields has returned with her second EP, and the wait is more than worth it for her adoring and loyal fans. The darling of indie rock in Australia literally burst onto the scene back in 2017 with her unearthed track ‘I Want’ which took the youth of Australia by storm with it’s relatable and angsty lyrics. Fields’ displayed an uncompromising level of maturity and confidence for someone who was yet to finish high school, yet she never really captivated my tastes. Follow up singles Ritalin, P Plates and Dinosaurs only sent Ruby Field’s popularity sky-rocketing, quickly becoming a cult hero amongst many young Australians. So after some large singles, an EP and a number 7 spot in this years Triple J Hottest 100, Fields releases Permanent Hermit. It's an EP sprawling with character and life, easily convincing myself that there is a lot more to Ruby Fields’ art than meets the eye.
Opening with the power ballad that is Dinosaurs, Fields showcases some of her best work to date. Though the duration of the track is dominated by softer tones and just the lonesome plucking of guitar chords, Fields takes you on a journey through her instantly recognisable lyrics, “I’m scared of huntsman’s even though they’re harmless, I don’t like their numerous legs and find their eyes quite charmless”. What’s more impressive is Fields’ vocal display, which is by far some of the best we’ve seen from her. The soaring heights she reaches without ever losing emotion or meaning is great, and when the song peaks into a ripping crescendo you can’t help but be impressed. Dinosaurs was overlooked by myself upon initial listen, but upon deeper listening there really is a lot of heart put into the track and Fields displays a great level of skill on this track.
It's an EP sprawling with character and life, easily convincing myself that there is a lot more to Ruby Fields’ art than meets the eye.
Following on is Climate, another recent single and it is one of the most Australian songs you’ll here. Opening immediately with the line “Oi pass us the bug spray would ya”, the Aussie slang and cultural references soon come in spades. References to aloe vera to prevent sunburn, going camping and getting bogged; it’s easy to see why Fields is liked by many Australians. Whilst Climate’s lyrics are witty and instantly likeable the production and instrumentation on this track is quite standard. Verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure and simple delivery from the guitars and drums, it isn’t one that I’m tapping my foot to and in my personal opinion the weakest track on the LP.
Trouble and Dingo bring things back on track, oozing punk rock and 90s garage rock elements that Fields is revered for. Trouble is quick and loud, with a Ramones-esque backing beat. Screaming guitar solos with pumping basslines and fast drum beats make for a real good time, especially when we see Fields develop melodies and see another side to her vocals. Dingo tones down this level of energy, but its weight and impact hits just as hard. Fields once again displays gorgeous vocals and riveting production elements. Similar to Dinosaurs the approach is much more timid to begin with, yet when the first verse is over and a searing guitar pierces through each instrumental interlude the track hits hard. Singing about swapping “these hands for paws, dirty fingernails for claws”, the emotional elements of Fields songwriting are on full display, quickly making Dingo a favourite on the EP.
Dodgy Neighbours and Conny display similar elements, with punchy and angsty hooks that hold a real sense of urgency. Dodgy Neighbours’ strength much like Trouble, lies in its short and fast approach. Two guitars bouncing off each other in the verse chiming around snappy drumlines rise as one in the chorus, “No dodgy neighbours or tax invaders” Fields yells over power chords, you can see this one going mental live. Conny isn’t as lively as Fields has been, it possesses some strong guitar and drum interludes with a Smashing Pumpkins-like guitar hook but lacks a certain edge. It tries to be loud and abrasive, but doesn’t deliver for myself other than its interesting instrumentation.
Singing about swapping “these hands for paws, dirty fingernails for claws”, the emotional elements of Fields songwriting are on full display, quickly making Dingo a favourite on the EP.
Closing with God Bless Turbulence Fields has a Paul Kelly moment, with a track that is witty, charming and easy-listening. It has to be noted that the snare work coupled with the swooning guitars in this track are nothing short of special. Whilst it is toned down in comparison to her other work, it certainly welcomed due to its charm. And I think that is what is so special about Ruby Fields and her work, she’s relatable and likeable thanks to her easy going lyrics and simplistic instrumentation. It is never over-complicated, and what it lacks in creativity or flair at times it makes up for in emotion and hearty delivery. If anything this EP has shown myself that there is a lot more layers to Fields’ work than I initially thought, and she has displayed that there is more to come as well. I look forward to the direction she takes in the coming months and years, because Permanent Hermit has shown that Ruby Fields is just getting started.