Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up There
Feb 3, 2022 (updated Feb 5, 2022)
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What makes this band so special?? London based rock group Black Country, New Road were formed in 2018. The band started growing a fanbase in the underground scene and released their first single “Athens, France” in January 2019. Their second single “Sunglasses” caught major critic attention and it grew the bands image even bigger. On the 5th of February, exactly 364 days before their second album, the bands debut album, For The First Time, was released. Every band member is allowed their spotlight here but the main standout is frontman, Isaac Wood. His heart wrenching vocals and lyrics across these 5 songs (excl. “instrumental”) creates a rollercoaster of emotions over the 40 minute runtime.

And now 4 days before their sophomore record releases, frontman Issac Wood exits the group.

The whole record “Ants From Up There” is about distance, us, the fans being the ants and Issac feeling as if him and his bandmates do not have a connection with their fans at all seen as they grew during a pandemic. And ironically, that is exactly what Isaac needed from the band after a busy and mentally straining 2 years. The album isn’t actually about the fans though; this album travels though relationships, death, and wet dreams.

The intro titled.. “Intro” is a beautiful opener led by saxophonist Lewis Evans. I wish this track transitioned into the next because it had the perfect potential for it but nonetheless, a great way to start the album! “Chaos Space Marine” was the first single from the album and it’s an amazing pop song following the story of a character called the Chaos Space Marine, which is from a popular wargame. They are described as former space marines who have chosen to abandon the service of the emperor of mankind and instead dedicate themselves to chaos to achieve their own ends. Issac uses this obsession with the video game as a juxtaposition to his relationship falling apart. “Concorde”, a british-french turbojet passenger aircraft, is the third single from this album. It’s simply about Issac feeling in denial about unreciprocated love. The buildup in this song is absolutely fantastic and a huge standout in the album! “Bread Song” is an emotional ballad about intimacy and the struggles behind being intimate with a partner for the first time. The narrator has never felt the bread crumbs in the bed until his partner pointed it out; the partner doesn’t feel wanted in the bed where the breadcrumbs lay, separating Issac and his partner even further away. Issac’s vocal performance on this song is heart wrenching and it makes you think, “Why am i crying over a song about bread?”

As we reach the middle of the record, “Good Will Hunting” is BC,NR’s best love song. Issac has falling head over heels for this girl that he only met recently. With lyrics like “We summer in France with our genius daughters now and you teach me how to play the piano” it creates a vivid picture of how Issac wants to spend the rest of his life with this new woman in his life. But again, the chorus brings in some dilemma. Some sort of distance is introduced, “I’m scared of the phone don’t ring it”. “Haldern” is a gorgeous song. The piano addition to this song is so beautiful and poignant. And again, Issac fucking kills it lyrically and vocally. The instrumental build up after every verse from Issac is a perfect way to progress the track and make a 5 minute run time feel like a 2 minute long song! “Mark’s Theme” is a tribute to saxophonist Lewis Evans late uncle who passed away from COVID. it’s a very moving piece from the band that includes Mark at the end, a great send off and i’m glad they included it in the album. “The Place Where He Inserted The Blade” is an incredibly written song and again, Issac’s performance is outstanding! Mr Wood must be absolutely in love with whoever this woman is! This song tackles Issac not being able to live without his partner, his partner is his home and when she’s not there, he’s lost. The chorus and outro are especially the best parts of the song. “Snow Globes” is a colossal 9 minute track which opens up with a very soft and tender 3 minute intro which slowly transitions to Issac singing. The main attraction of this track is Charlie Wayne on drums who goes absolutely CRAZY. Once Charlie starts going ham on the drums, you don’t even pay attention to Issac singing “Oh god of weather Henry knows snow globes don’t shake on their own” 7 times over. This track is very grandiose but it sets up the biggest, and best, song on the record perfectly.

What hasn’t been said about “Basketball Shoes”. From the controversial lyrics (that have now been changed) to the insane buildups sprawled all over the track. This 13 minute magnum opus track is the perfect way to end the record and to cement Black Country, New Road as the future of rock. This track is split into 3 different parts. The intro is so soft and so stunning, with the Sax, Violin and Drums setting the stage for the absolute carnage about to happen. The buildup after the first part of this track is only the start. Violinist, Georgia Ellery, goes crazy as she leads us into the second part of the tack. Within the second part of the song, Issac sounds distraught to me. He screeches “And it tortures me” This part of the track is vapid but serves its purpose of breaking the track up. Then the build up starts again. And then, BOOM. The biggest wave of instruments comes together creating a huge wall of sound and they all sing along “LA LA LA LA LA”. And now we approach the third and final part of the track, The heavy drums leading us in. Issac sings about Charli XCX or now known as “Charlie” and his wet dream about her. Or is it more than that? I wouldn’t know but it makes for some incredibly funny but also controversial lyrics. But again, Issac turns a line about having a wet dream about his celebrity crush into something so harrowing.

So i say again, what makes this band so special? This album has cemented this young English experimental rock group as the future and face of rock going forward. With the departure of Issac, who knows where this band will go next but i know for a fact that whatever they do will be fucking fantastic.

8 Comments
6mo
Really great read, cool review
6mo
Great review, personally I really love the whole three track finale of The Place Where He Inserted the Blade, Snow Globes, and Basketball shoes. The first half is genius but those three songs are transcendent. No comments on TPWHISB?
6mo
@ursusmartitimus thank you for reminding me about that lol! i had my thoughts for that on a separate notes page and forgot to add it in. i enjoy the last 3 tracks a ton too, they’re like the anchor for the record. so hard hitting and emotional. thank you :)
6mo
@avernannes thank you my friend :)
6mo
thank you so much! @sillypengie
6mo
This review inspired me and gave me the motivation to write as well. Thank u Josh <3 Amazing work
6mo
supersonic, dont forget its supersonic
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