For the first time in my life, love at first sight isn’t such a wild idea to me anymore. Loving a specific piece of music, dare I say thinking of it as a modern classic just upon the first few listens is something that I never would’ve thought of. Before you even consider giving something a high score, let alone a 100, you need to settle down and think about it. You have to relisten to it multiple times, look deeply into the lyrical content, background, and everything. With all of that being said… hours of analyzation and rethinking everything, I caved into my final decision. “For the First Time” is a modern masterpiece with absolutely 0 imperfections and was done phenomenally.
At 9:12 AM, I sat down in my chair, turned on my VPN, searched up “Black Country, New Road” on YouTube, clicked on the playlist, and started listening to this album. Before going to this, I had not heard any of the singles, not knowing the genre of music, basically going in blindfolded. I heard lots of great things about this album as well, but biases aside, I just went into it. Only 2 and a half minutes in… I was absolutely stunned. That feeling of surprisement and love gushed through my body for the rest of the day. Pure bliss went through my veins each and every listen, just me up and out of my seat in every crescendo, loving every bit and piece I was listening to. In awe, I couldn’t even write this review. There was so much to unpack with this album that I was utterly speechless to write this review. But 8 hours later, I’ve finally sat down to unravel my thoughts on this perfect album.
To preface this all, I have to say one thing I for one, am not well versed in this genre, so this could quite honestly not be at it’s best but from what I’ve heard, it is. Now it’s time to get into the music itself. “For the First Time” is a rambunctious post-punk album that is easily lovable just from one listen alone. The incredible amount of soul and care put into this project sets it apart from its competition, it winning in a landslide. There’s no other album that instantly fills me with joy just off an introductory instrumental. For an album to not even say one word to me yet and have this phenomenal amount of soul and energy to it to really get me started is when it succeeds. An instant sense of being buckled into this wild rollercoaster is put into your mind just from the first progression. The more “Instrumental” progressed, the more locked in and immersed I felt. I’d bop my head wanting more and more… and more! The crescendoing nature of this whole album has this large payoff towards the end that feels insanely satisfying. That included with the raw nature of the guitar riffs makes this very personal and authentic. With “Athens, France”, the album finally unveils lyrical content and vocal performances. It finally paints a clearer image of what this is truly about. On the contrary to the ending of the first track, this one’s a lot slower and mellow, to transition and prepare you for the chaotic nature of “Science Fair”. Throughout the song, the lead singer explains a story about this girl, unclear if it’s the same person from “Athens, France” but it goes a lot deeper into the explanation. That aspect of the album slowly progressing through that story, unblurring the image of this deep story farther and farther it goes is something I really like about it. It feels much more personal and loving, like getting to know someone new. The farther and farther you get into this track, everything starts blaring, vocals start crashing down onto you, noise entering your ears putting this sense of fear inside you… to slowly end transitioning into the next track “Sunglasses”. Throughout the first minute of track, it’s unclear where it’ll go. The sense of mystery enters your brain, fear beneath you, not knowing where it’ll go next… and it was an ethereal response of a loving guitar, at rest after the insanity of “Science Fair”. But it was all a lie, at the midpoint of the song it returns back into that chaotic nature. Barely a 30 second rest… but it really keeps you on your feet. This album has this indescribable quality to keep you intrigued throughout the whole thing. Coming into this blindly, not even listening to the singles was probably the best accidental decision I could ever make because I had no idea where this was going to go. That element of surprise kept me waiting for what was next. “Track X” was next, and was the desperate rest we needed. We needed the ability to really let it sink in what just happened. We only have around 5 minutes to really rethink what just occurred. Then, “Opus” suddenly began. I will just be extremely blunt about “Opus”, this is the best song to come out of 2021 so far, and it isn’t even close. The beautiful brass instruments, soulful guitar strings, the snares crashing, the mesmerizing legato vocals, this album has it all. It’s one of the greatest closers I’ve ever heard in my life, closing the insanity with more chaos leaving us not knowing where to go in the end. An 8 minute track filled with simultaneous pain and love. Spiraling out of control I was, a smile covering my face outshining it all. The song fades out softly out into the dust to never be heard from ever again.
With all of that being said, why is this album a modern masterpiece? There are so many lovable qualities about this album that I don’t even know where to begin with it. The chaotic nature to this album is one of my main appeals for this. It really keeps you immersed and really wonders what’s going to happen next. Each of these songs slowly crescendos and/or progresses into this huge outbreak of bliss which I said before is a satisfying payoff from waiting. The satisfaction keeps you motivated to listen to the full 40+ minute runtime this album has. You never seem to lose your initial interest, you never seem to get bored, you’re completely strapped in for this wild ride. Once you get to the end of this prolonged experience, you’re left wanting more, a new single, a sophomore release, because you’re yearning to learn more about this beautiful story, an art piece if you will. The album has this perfect length where it’s not too short, not too long, but also makes you want more. Finishing off “Opus”, leaving you with silence, was the only part of this album that I simply didn’t like… it ending, leaving me disconnected from their experience and reconnected back into the real world.
The lyricism on “For the First Time” also follows suit with the track's moody/tumultuous tone. The song-writing may not be the main focal point of the album, but it’s definitely something that shouldn’t go unnoticed. The song lyrics are structured in a way that it leaves a lot to interpret, lot’s of metaphors/analogies that can be discussed for hours. Coming out of this album, there are quite a lot of notable lyrics that really can catch you by surprise, which I’ll leave for you to decipher rather than me digging into it. The lyrics wouldn’t be as good as they are without the vocal performances. The vocals are extremely passionate yet calm at points which is perfect for the mood of the album. It leaves you distressed… You can hear the pain in their voice, you can hear the dead love gushing out of the performance, you can hear the care that they had. Without the specific vocal style that was used, this album would lose a lot of it’s emotion and intensity. So to say that it was perfectly done, is a wild understatement.
What sets the tone instantly is the instrumentals though, which is the #1 reason why this score is so high. I can not make it clear enough how amazing how illustrious, personal, and conceptual the instrumentals are. The instruments ranging from brass, string, and percussion, not the most variation possible per say but the band really makes the most out of it in an immense way. The illustration and raw talent of this album and artist is completely revealed with the absolutely amazing performances they put on this album. I can’t stress enough how great it truly is, and I’ll never be able to completely analyze and explain every bit and detail of the album to give you more context. All I have to say is that you have to listen to the album to really believe what I’m saying.
“For the First Time” is undoubtedly a modern classic that will be looked upon greatly in the future. An AOTY contender coming out this early is mindblowing to me. The perfectionist quality everything has, the chaos that keeps you up on your feet, the subject-matter leaving you so much to interpret and analyze, and the rawness/authenticity easily makes this an instant classic. I’ve been left so impressed by what just happened. Before today I came into this not even knowing what the band was made of or what they were going to even sound like, now I’m in love with their debut album wanting more. This was not a premature decision. It was a decision that took hours and hours to decide with other personal biases aside. I’m willing to stick to this opinion. This album is a masterpiece.
Favorite Tracks: Instrumental, Athens, France, Science Fair, Sunglasses, Opus
Least Favorite Tracks: None
P.S. Thank you all for 1,000 followers. A 1,000 follower special review will be coming out tomorrow :)