Black Country, New Road's debut album may have captivated many with its rambling song structures and pretentiously obtuse lyricism, but personally, the novelty of these sprawling songs, and more importantly, the novelty of their lead vocalist, leads to a thinly-spread aesthetic by the album's end. Over six lengthy tracks, the band's MO is clearly presented, but nearly every moment has an unshakeable air of ironically amateurish navel-gazing and trend-hopping. At points, Black Country can borrow structural foundations from recent Daughters material, albeit with much less ferocity and a heaping of overly dramatic yelping from Isaac Wood, whose performances reek of taking oneself too seriously, and fail to conjure any inventive or unique topical focuses outside of the usual working-class musings that have been done to death in post-punk. The album's out-of-place and eye-rolling lyrical non-sequitors about seemingly random things, with little rhythm or rhyme for many parts, begs the question of why anyone would be interested in what's being said, if the band doesn't seem too phased about lyrical quality control. Opus is the only longer track that manages to carry and evolve a single idea from start to finish, but even this is mired by the incredibly blaring, cacophanous sax passages that are such an obvious and tired addition to a crescendo they subtract more than they add. The only positive takeaway from this release are a handful of deft instrumental performances. Athens, France has some fantastic progressions from a more than competent backing band, and the first half of Sunglasses has an incredible build, before crashing down into a forced and cliché breakdown.
Overall, this is such a confused, tiresome project. There are some good ideas buried somewhere here, but they're in so far deep, it's not worth wading through the mess of dramatic, campy vocals and tacked-on brass instrumentation. With hardly any truly original ideas keeping it afloat, it's mind-boggling how this release is receiving the praise it is.
Least Favourite Tracks: