Black Country, New Road release new record with polish and flair

Black Country, New Road release new record with polish and flair
Reader Rating4 Votes
3.9

When was the last time you discovered a band like Black Country, New Road? Whilst hailing from the same scene as Black Midi, shame and Famous, they still stand out for their innovative and jaunty style. Ridden with prominent bursts of violin and saxophone, the seven-piece have certainly caused a stir with their debut album, For The First Time.

With only two previously released singles to their name, admirers of the band have had to indulge their curiosity with Youtube videos of live performances for just under two years now. Which perhaps makes one of the most redeeming qualities of For The First Time the sentiment of finally having studio recordings to listen to. Frontman Isaac Wood’s vocals feel enhanced with nonchalance and increasing intensity as the LP develops within such high production. Pre-loved riffs are given a new lick of paint. Everything feels polished. 

The dynamic of the album also stretches wide. The release of ‘Track X’ was fairly surprising, I expected it to follow in the footsteps of its predecessor ‘Science Fair’, but the track is almost the complete antithesis of it. With warmth only a mother can offer, the single demonstrates the wide musical talents of the adolescent group. Through its melodic rhythm and enchanting violin, ‘Track X’ becomes a timely, lighthearted single and, once mirrored with the closing track, ‘Opus’, the inclinations of the band become truly magnified. The finale is packed with cacophonous rising and falling tension which, paired with Wood’s gritty vocals, becomes a profoundly gratifying playback.

The most fascinating phenomenon about the release, however, was the number of people who ran to Rate Your Music and the band’s Facebook group ‘Sunglasses Posting’, to complain about lyric changes. On both ‘Athens, France’ and ‘Sunglasses’, Wood’s lyrics have seen a shift from a promiscuous nature towards radio accessible ones – replacing lyrics like ‘fuck me like you mean it this time, Isaac’ with a more feasible ‘burn what’s left of the cards you kept’. Sure, it might take some time to get used to the new lyrics, but they’ve been altered for a reason, and that’s what’s highly overlooked. They don’t deflect from the instrumentation or the flow of the track, so is the fuss really needed? Wood’s lyrics still carry an immense character within them, with his most recognised single still having ‘leave Kanye out of this’ as one of its focal points. The world will still keep on turning even if ‘Sunglasses’ isn’t the carbon copy of its original release.

If For The First Time has proved anything, it’s that Black Country, New Road have an undeniable flair within their musical style. They’re almost like the Marmite of the alternative scene: everyone who comes across their work seems to either love it or hate it with a burning passion. For the First Time is a perfect assortment of timely tracks, setting the scene for the band’s unique style. It stands as an album of the year contender that I will recommend to anyone wanting to branch out their music taste. After all, it can’t be argued that Black Country, New Road are a monotonous and dreary group to listen to. 

Haiku Review:
Enticed by the sax,
Stayed for the Kanye lyric.
Black Country: still boss.

Listen to Black Country, New Road on Spotify and Apple Music.