Overall Score: 8/10 Songwriting: 8/10 Vocals: 8/10 Progression: 7/10 Pros: Dynamic and Interesting Cons: Very few. A couple of forgettable tracks
Having firmly shaken off the pop-punk tag they have had since their inception, Boston Manor have proven to be one of the UK’s most innovative and interesting young rock bands. 2018’s Welcome to the Neighbourhood cemented this by taking intriguing turns yet was rewarded when given some patience. One growing asset of the Blackpool quintet’s arsenal is their maturing songwriting. Having painted a rather bleak picture of their hometown last time out, GLUE is considered as a “critical examination of the modern world”. Without a doubt, vocalist Henry Cox isn’t afraid to shy away from vital topics. From highlighting the throwaway nature of modern day media (Plasticine Dreams) to the need to accept himself (Terrible Love and Ratking) to addressing the generational divide (You, Me & The Class War) amongst those covered. Subjects such as Brexit, toxic masculinity and trying to deal with a fragile mental health sees GLUE‘s lyrical scope be diverse yet is threaded together by rage and the band’s confidence to be outspoken.
From the outset, Everything Is Ordinary sets a visceral foundation that weaves its way throughout GLUE. A rush of distorted adrenaline gives way to Cox admitting that we’ve become used to awful events happening daily. It’s backed by frantic instrumentation that compliments the chaos running through Cox’s head, setting up a self-deprecating theme that appears throughout. When paired with 1’s & 0’s, it’s clear the quintet aren’t afraid to hold back, sounding denser and more rigid than ever.
While GLUE has its fair share of heavy moments, it’s countered by fragile junctures. For instance, On A High Ledge is delivered with a cold vulnerability yet is underpinned by a familiar bleakness. It ideally aligns with tender topic of men needing to “man up”. Likewise, Stuck In The Mud is hauntingly delivered as Cox sings about being mentally trapped and wanting someone to tell him it’s going to be okay.
The potential downside of Boston Manor‘s complexity is that these songs require more than a couple of listens to take their full desired effect. For some, this might not be a leap in progression compared to WTTN. Considerably both Playing God and Brand New Kids don’t quite have a solid identity when put next to album standouts such as the scuzzy and radiant Ratking, and the gritty angst served up by Only1. Nevertheless, once you’ve grasped of what they’re trying to do, both musically and lyrically, the end result makes for a dynamic and interesting listen.
Monolith offers one final blast of complete angst as Cox blares “Hey you, fuck you too.
I’ll do what I want when I want to” before segueing into a calm piano outro. It’s a line that epitomises the band’s mindset as they repeatedly show an unwillingness to be tied down to a certain style or genre.
Through their brash deliver and lyrical awareness, Boston Manor continue to brilliantly evolve beyond expectations. While it’s easy to pinpoint Cox as the band’s centre point; his songwriting and vocal performance is thoroughly potent, yet as a collective, Boston Manor have crafted a set of songs that surprise at first but are executed with a purpose. Ultimately, GLUE solidifies their growing importance amongst the pool of vital modern rock bands.
The new Boston Manor album, GLUE, is released May 1st 2020 on Pure Noise Records.