Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up There
Feb 4, 2022
100
Enough to make a grown incel cry.

Where do I even start with a record of this magnitude? The only way I feel is right is to start at the beginning. Unknown to me prior to 2020, Black Country, New Road, the 7 person band based out of London getting ready to release their debut project, “For the first time”. Leading up to this release, I was blindsided to what was about to come next, my plan was only to listen to the album and rate it, and I thought I would be done. I had no idea what was going to come next. Then it was released, and I fell in love at first listen. Their debut project was the only occurrence in my entire life to be an instant 10/10. I personally would usually let an album sit with me for weeks, months even, to decide on what it’s final score is, but there was something different about this band for me. Was it the personality it evoked? The chaotic yet beautiful instrumentals? Or was it that experience of immersion it provided for me? It was everything, everything was just perfect. But what made it so special is that it came all at me in surprise, as I had no prior expectation.

So that’s what I wanted to recreate with their sophomore release, “Ants From Up There”. I wanted to have no expectation of what would happen, I wouldn’t listen to any promotional material, singles, live performances, etc, until the date of release. I wanted to feel something once again like the debut once did for me again. I want to be surprised, impressed, whatever the word can really be. I wanted that personal touch that made me cry the first time. Months before the release, I would inadvertently ignore every release that would come before it because I was too focused on this album. My focus was on this album. At times I was fearful that I was wasting this all on nothing, maybe it can’t be as good and surely could never be better? Was this all a mistake?

Fast forward to the present day, I’ve cried once again. It’s really hard to put into words on how this album really makes me feel. “Ants From Up There” is one of the hardest hitting pieces of media I’ve ever touched in my life, and it really doesn’t help that days before release, Isaac Wood would depart from the band, leaving me in more despair. Without more deliberation, let me finally review the album itself, I just wanted to provide some context and reasoning to the score you see above. Here we go…

“Ants From Up There” may sonically be different to its predecessor, and while the debut did perfect it’s genre, I believe this album has made strides into a new genre and perfected it as well. Everything that was incredibly admirable about the band will remain within this album. The beautiful instrumentals, soulful vocals, the raw performances, and rambunctious personality will all be here once again to show out. What separates both projects from each other is the genre switch, a new attempt at an artful approach with this one, and oh boy did they hit their mark. Starting with the obvious, the genre switch is a glaring component to the appeal, adding new instrumentation including the piano and violin. These two instruments will complement this album a lot more, toning it down more than the predecessor and obviously being more artful in my opinion. As aforementioned, this is a more toned down approach to their music, and that may seem as a turn off. Album highlights such as Opus and Sunglasses off their debut were some of the most high-energy songs off the album, and BCNR being able to transition into more tame songs really shows something about their versatility. This is an incredibly impressive feat, and what is even more impressive is the fact that the album is recorded in one session. Often not common in this modern age of music, it really shows the talent of this band.

Highlights of the album I want to talk about are Chaos Space Marine, Bread Song, and Basketball Shoes. These are not particularly my favorites by ranking but I feel they are the most interesting to speak on. Chaos Space Marine is a highlight I chose as it was the moving forward point for the band, being that it was the first single for the project. This is the song that pioneered the new era for their music. Bread Song is another highlight off the record as it is one of the most beautiful rock songs I have ever heard in my life. Beauty isn’t a way I describe most rock music, but the slow burning, artful, indie style is absolutely admirable, and that is without mentioning the lyrical content behind the song. This was the point that made me cry in the album. One of their most touching, personal songs to date, which was what led me to love this band, their personal touch. Before I go into Basketball Shoes, I do want to say that there are better songs than the other two I mentioned, I just felt those two were the most important to speak on as they are the most incredible feats of the album that influenced the album. Concorde and Snow Globes are easily better than both those songs, but what I wanted to highlight was what interested me the most. With that being said, Basketball Shoes is easily the best song the band has made to date. With a daunting introduction, intimate build-up, to one of the most ascending music outro moments in history, it’s simply perfect. I never in my life would have ever guessed that Opus could have been beaten, even with it’s name implying it really could have never been beaten, but I was just completely wrong. I am just in awe.

This review may seem like one long ramble about a band I love, and it really is. I can not make a cohesive/conclusive thought about this band without spilling every thought in my brain onto the page. Making this review is a struggle and being able to give the album the correct justice is nearly impossible. If I really wanted to do a correct analysis of this album, I would be repeating the words “perfect” over and over again, and that just isn’t quality. I can’t stress enough how much I adore the album. But to sum it up, this album was everything I ever wanted it to be. It made great strides in the BCNR discography, and even surprised me after knowing of the band for almost a year now. This was the only necessary album for me to review this year thus far.

And that’s why it’s another instant 100.

HIGHLIGHTS: Concorde, Bread Song, TPWHITB, Snow Globes, Basketball Shoes
LOWLIGHTS: N/A

10/10

6 Comments
4mo
good review MattsReviews
4mo
It's a sea of change from it's predecessor for sure. I expected the polar opposite. Great review as always, and I miss talking to you a LOT. Hope you're doing fine
4mo
@TomBejoy I miss you too bro, AOTY isn't the same with all of us apart
4mo
Still need to start listening to Black Country, New Road, looks like I need to ASAP after reading this! Glad to see you back, great review! :)
4mo
Niceee su
4mo
Good review
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More Reviews by MattsReviews
Black Country, New Road - For the first time
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