Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up There
Feb 4, 2022 (updated Feb 8, 2022)
100
....Fucks SAKE

Twice. They were able to release two albums of near perfect material twice. To do it once? It’s possible. To do it once on your first try? That’s pretty goddamn special, and extremely hard to do. Even some of my favorite bands took a couple albums to come out with something I'd call a ten. To do it twice? In a fucking row? It’s near impossible, but it’s still doable. To have it done twice, in a row, and it be your first two records and then dip? What in the fuck? That has NEVER happened for me specifically. Not once, even with my all time favorite bands! Some will point to hype skewing what I like, others will just say that I'm just boarding a bandwagon like the Conchord itself, but whatever.

This album has given me, maybe in spite of me, the perfect experience of happiness, joy and freedom while also being an album filled with depression, anxiety, trauma and hostage, and every time I listen to Ant’s From Up There, it continues to ascend the pillar of perfection that I seem to have; every track is memorable, exciting and oozing with a singular vision, every song seems to speak to me in one way or another, every performance is perfectly imperfect, and every piece of the puzzle creates, time and time again, what I call Peak Music.

And it’s already a pretty thick shake to serve based off of their last album too. ‘For The First Time’ was an absolutely stunning collection of some of the most refined, polished and beautifully crafted Post-Punk to grace the start of the 2020s, with chaotic guitar slams ripping into each track like a knife, meditative and planned rhythm sections giving most tracks a strong backbone to use to its advantage to lift tracks like ‘Opus’ ‘Sunglasses’ and ‘Science Fair’ with elements of Jazz, Krautrock, Experimental Rock and Chamber Pop from being good Post-Punk to perfection in my eyes. That album set an impressive stage, since nearly every song on that album (even the goddamn Instrumental) was effective in communicating Isaac Woods (now former frontman, we’ll miss you man, hope you're staying well!) ideas of anxiety in suburban hell, lost romance in the eyes of depression and the immaturity of trying to mature, and the stage could be seen sung on in the eyes of many fans for eons.
‘For The First Time’ screamed at the world with emotions flying off the hinges “Black Country New Road are THE band to pay attention to”, even if it was attention that some members of the band weren’t exactly keen on. And I'd say hands down that not only did ‘Ant’s From Up Here’ burn down that stage, but paved in its way a new path for Black Country New Road to lead fans, critics and themselves down in an inspiring, captivating, emotionally gripping and beyond exciting way.

It’s all of that and a bag of carrots…but yes, I'm aware I'm stroking this album's dick way too hard right off the bat here. I should maybe issue a tad bit of a warning: I am aware that this band HAS been getting probably the fattest critical sloppy toppy of any band in years, and while I say it’s deserved, I can also acknowledge the insane amount of hype might be this bands biggest detriment. It’s hard to look at an album that is so revered and well received from the outside and understand exactly what the appeal of it is. Hell, I did the same thing with Little Simz latest album, and while not to turn this review into a Trojan Horse Little Simz shit talk, when I did get around to hearing it, and anticipating to become a throat goat for it myself, it did leave me quite underwhelmed with just how ‘Fine’ it was for me personally.

Sure, I'm glad that people were connecting with it, but personally I didn’t really feel that inspired or captivated that so many people had. But that's the thing that this album not only acknowledges, but bases some of its main themes around: the response to these albums, positively or negatively, doesn’t matter at all. Do you love this album? Awesome! You hate it? Also awesome! The beauty with art is that there is no set opinion on what is good or bad, and the endless discussion of what art really is most of the time boils down to gatekeeping, pedestal pushing and overall pointless arguments over something that is meant to inspire.
If you spend your entire life soaked in opinion, you’ll never really reach outside of that, so really a number on a goddamn music discussion social media site doesn’t really matter, and the people who are complaining to hell and high water over that the album is getting tOo HiGh oF PrAiSe or that people are rUshiNg tO cONCLuSiONs when saying they love a record, and going as far to say that a particular site is ‘dumb, uneducated, uncultured, childish or bad writers’ because they aren’t spam listening to Morton Feldmen every five seconds should realistically take their corks out of their ass.

Cough.

But anyway, why do I even bring that up in the first place? Well, that leads me into why this album is just so goddamn great, and why personally for me, it is a ten outta ten album; I believe that this album is not only a sequel to Black Country New Road’s debut album ‘For The First Time’, I think it also is doubling as a response to the unanimous praise that album received. And not even just lyrically (yes, I'll get to the lyrics in a second, don’t worry), but sonically too! This seems to be the most natural progression for a band like Black Country, New Road to take; compartmentalizing some of the more Post-Rock and Chamber Pop inspired elements of their last album (particularly tracks like ‘Track X’ or ‘Athens France’) to show a different side of the band.
It’s a side that’s filled with joy in their heart and a spring in their step, but not scared to slow the brakes to show the humanity, the rawness and the unflinchingly beautiful (You’re gonna hear that word a lot, suck it up) through it’s instrumentation.

This album's production is extremely interesting to me, because it’s the perfect blend between obtusely grand and eye-wateringly raw. It’s maximalist at its core, with visions of scaling mountains, fighting tides on the high seas or something equal to a Moby Dick-style spectacle, but at the very same time, very minimalist and raw, giving off that sort of comforting feeling that a lot of GOOD folk music tends to bring out in me.

It’s a blanket that once you put on sends you visions of a new world, filled with the horrors of humanity, and no matter how snuggly it makes you feel, reading into the album shows a venomous snake ready to make you cry at any second. It’s clear that Sergio Maschetzko was taking influence from the great British albums of the 60s with this approach, feeling very ‘Pet Sounds’ or ‘Revolver’ with it’s approach to expansive sound (Yes, in the time I didn’t write reviews, I learned to appreciate production. You are legally allowed to bully the ever loving shit out of me), yet the production reminds me of how a lot of Swans records are produced: giving every instrument enough room to breathe while creating this cacophony of euphoric sound when all put together.

The opener ‘Intro’ actually does a perfect job at showcasing this, with it’s flurry of saxophone, violin and piano creating a swirl of hypnotizing melody, with enough space in the mix to lose yourself listening to these performers just bust ass, so when the bass and eventual drums come in, it’s like a quick slap to the face, but not one that leaves for much discomfort. In a way, this intro sort of sets the tone apart from the ‘Instrumental’ in “For The First Time”, where as that song played it’s tricks to envelope the listener into a more anxious and overpowering sense of anticipation, the intro on “Ants from Up There” is more establishing a sense of freedom, of joy, like the feeling of just getting off of an airplane into a new town…but we’ll get to that.

And that impeccable production continues through the entire album, through rich song after rich song. I’ve heard that the album was recorded live, with each member in the same room as each other, and only did overdubs to instruments and vocal processing, and you can tell. While ‘For the First Time’ did have intimate moments, it very much felt like you were watching the band from this stage they created, but this album creates a much more raw and intimate atmosphere, with songs like ‘Bread Song’, ‘Haldern’ and ‘Snow Globes’ sounding like you are practically in the room with them. Sometimes instruments will be right in your ear, other times they are so far off in the distance that you barely notice them.
It makes these songs come alive, and bursts with a sense of melancholic joy that brings tears to my eyes on more than one occasion. That doesn’t mean this is just a ‘pretty’ album though. It’s got a lot of energy, and the recording process works for these grander and more in your face moments too, with tracks like ‘Chaos Space Marine’, ‘Conchord’, ‘The Place Where He Inserted The Blade’ and ‘Good Will Hunting’ sounding like, if these tracks came out in the 90s, these would be making huge rounds on Alternative Radio Stations, with the production almost taking cues from pop music. Hell, the track everyone seems to be talking about ‘Basketball Shoes’ seems like the recording was influenced by ‘Happier Than Ever’ by Billie Eilish…and trust me, we’ll get to her.

And even despite the production and recording, the compositions on this album? FUCK. FUCK FUCKING FUCK FUUCKING FUUUUUUUCK DUDE. If you’ve been reading my reviews for a little bit (thank you if you do!) then you’ll gather that I have a trait in music that I've coined called ‘Peak Music’. It’s been getting around here and there, and it seems like it’s catching on as an actual term. It’s the idea that a piece of music is just so good that you get that feeling of ascending from your body and mind and enter a state of pure euphoria.

For me, Peak Music tracks are ones that go so far into amazing that it just makes me ascend. Sometimes it's through long build-ups (i.e. Post-Rock, Swans, that kinda shit), other times it's through gorgeous melodies (hence why ‘i love you’ by Billie Eillish is peak music for me), and other times it is just because the song is just so fucking fun I can’t (i.e. a LOT of Lemon Demon or Sparks songs). And the compositions in this album? It’s like a Peak Music Buffet.

The stop in the chorus of ‘Chaos Space Marines’. The absolutely build-up and payoff at the end of ‘Conchord’.
The saxophone and rumbling cymbals and bass in ‘Bread Song’.
The time signature switch and that fucking SYNTH in ‘Good Will Hunting’.
The drum hits in ‘Haldern’ in the third verse.
The fact that ‘Haldern’ is just 4 verses and constant build-up!
Those gorgeous, painful sounding pianos in ‘Marks Theme’ (A beautiful interlude about the loss of one of the band members uncle, who is able to be commemorated here, forever preserved).
The WHOLE of ‘The Place Where He Inserted The Blade’ (The melody when the lines “The good hunter’s guide to a bad night Darlin’, I’ll spoil it myself, thanks, you’re leaving Well, I tried just to stroke your dreams better But, darlin’, I see that you’re not really sleeping” appear, FUCKS SAAAAAAKE).
The ‘Piggy’ by Nine Inch Nails style drum work on ‘Snow Globes’.
That choir in ‘Basketball Shoes’.
That riff in ‘Basketball Shoes’!
That fucking FINALE in ‘Basketball Shoes’!!!

There are just so many moments, some subtle and some blatant, that make me lose my goddamn mind that it is insane how frequent they appear, and every listen awakens a new little nugget of pure ecstasy that I obsess over. That’s why writing a review like this takes so long, because I know that I will eventually listen to it enough times that I will have heard nearly everything from this album, but to quote Professor Sykes; “I am always late to talking about this album yet I am never ready to give my full thoughts.” And when the music sounds polished, this grand, this exciting? Yeah, it’s no wonder I love this album and want to talk about it as much as possible. Hell, I don’t want to just give it all away. I just want you to just simply LISTEN to it.
If anything I've said in these winding, obnoxiously specific paragraphs have interested you at all, listen to this album. It’s a beauty, and one that you just have to listen to in order to fully understand why it’s getting the critical hanky panky of the century: it’s just fucking good.

So yes, music nerd aside, these songs sound great, sure. “But come on Ryan”, some of you beckoned to me, “That’s not why we are reading this far into this review.”. “It’s not?”, I replied. “No stupid!”, you typed (and rather aggressively too, shame on you). “What are your thoughts on those LYRICS?! You went on such a tangent on the lyrics of the last record, come on!”. And fair point. I did start writing this with the assumption that I had some knowledge in whatever all of this depressing, uplifting and earnestly written poetry meant to me. Well…

While I will try to add my two cents to this conversation, to again quote Professor Sykes (Repetitive and redundant writing? In a Pipe review? SiNcE wHen!); “I am always late to talking about this album yet I am never ready to give my full thoughts.” Art is unending in messages, themes and interpretations, so having a full on “Here are the themes!” from me, at this point, is never going to happen. Trust me, I've tried with other albums, and that’s why I haven’t done a review in 6 months. So this isn’t really my full on “ANTS FROM UP THERE (2021) ENDING EXPLAINED! (WHAT YOU MISSED YOU DUMB FUCK)”, but merely an interpretation of what I got out of it, and if you have your own theory or interpretation, i’d love to hear about it. This album leaves itself open and vulnerable for you to bring your own experiences to, so coming into “Ants from Up There”, you’ll have a completely different experience than I did. The tl;dr (or didn’t read a long ass short story for no reason) version is; this album is about leaving. It’s about leaving your home, trying new things, realizing you still hold the trauma that you kept inside of you when you left, and fighting to make yourself OK again, through long distance relationships, new experiences and new roads. But, for those who want to know more, without further ado, let's pick up where I left off, and talk about the lyrics…

This album is about a man. A man who has supposedly grown from his mistakes but is still making new ones. A man who is fresh from escaping his hometown in the search of something better, leaving behind the ‘Black Country’ in search of the ‘New Road’. A man who is still a little slubby, still a little neurotic, still very anxious, but a man nonetheless. A man who is still wanting the intimacy he was chasing in his college days. A man who, while still self hating, is trying to be better, yet still wanting love to fix him. A man who once was scared to leave the house, but now is free…or at least he thinks.

“And though England is mine, I must leave it all behind…”

This man is waiting at the airport, waiting to finally leave Black Country once and for all. He still tries to text goodbye to his hometown girlfriend…err…friend…uh…partner…it’s complicated. This album is a man who really sucks at goodbyes, about as much as he is good at introductions. He imagines himself more confident. “I’m finally out of here”, he thinks, imagining himself as a brave navy captain, off to fight the enemy on the other side, leaving home to make a better future for himself.
No longer needing sunglasses to make himself feel confident, he is himself, in nearly every aspect. He thinks of a game he used to play with his friends back home, Warhammer 40k. “Yes, cool people still play Warhammer”, he thinks to himself, as almost to convince himself it actually is cool. He imagines himself as a Chaos Space Marine, ready to jump into battle with a metal suit, cold, rustic hands and everything.

Dink!

His phone gets a notification. It’s from her. A weird amount of anxiety shoots through his brain, as if the text he was going to get was “fuckk you!!! I hope you die out there!!! Asshole!!”, which honestly he feels as if he deserves. Their last meeting didn’t end the best, with him leaving her in the middle of the street on a bike. At least that’s how he remembers it.
“good luck!!! hope you find everything you need, keep in touch!! *heart emoji*”. “Well, that went well”, he thought. It was almost as if she was there, holding that cold metal hand of his, giving him a kiss goodbye.” Obviously she’s not doing that”, he thinks, “We aren’t really boyfriend…err…friends…uh…partners…oh…oh wait, did we every break up?”. He considers texting her to check, but recognizes that doing that would be what his friends would call “Fucking Stupid”.

Ding Dong.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, flight 2003 is now boarding. Please take all of your belongings to the station.”

“Welp, there's my cue”, he says. This album is about a man who looks behind his shoulder. He views the town through his own lens; a forgotten memory, in favor of something new. Like a worm, he quickly scutters through the dirt to new horizons, leaving his old version of him behind, and bravely marches forward to the next stage of his life, leaving his body behind, burying the hatchet, metaphors quickly rushing through his head. In the end, he is leaving. In that flurry of leaving, his head turns to the things he is leaving behind. His friends. His family. His girlf…uh…yeah, his girlfriend. In time, he will find, these things take up space inside his mind, but right now, in a rush of actual confidence, he looks behind and yells:

“So long chumps!”. He begins boarding the Concord.

“But, for less than a moment, We'd share the same sky, And then Isaac will suffer; Concorde will fly.”

This album is about a man sleeping on a plane to a new land. He’s snuggled up on a chair too uncomfortable to really enter R.E.M., but comfortable enough to convince his brain that he is technically asleep. He almost feels like he’s in his light blue sleeper, wondering if The Sandman will come to tuck him into bed, sleeping like a child. In his dreams (or about as close to dreams as you can get on a plane this noisy), he thinks back to his times with his…uh….partner.

He imagines him running round his hometown, over mountains and hills, just to see this person, like seeing a plane ascend through the clouds on a summer day. Breathless, he pauses in front of her to just stop and pant. “I…fuck…sorry...I’m here.”, he whimpers. She just laughs at his exhausted body.
“Took you long enough.”, she replies. “You need to eat more, man.”
“I don’t…I don’t think that’s the takeaway- hey, I thought you were still doing that diet?”, he says with a puff.
“Oh, the Atkins thing?”
“Yeah.”
“Well, that’s still bread. You, on the other hand are not eating fucking anything.”
“Hey, it’s a new kind a diet!”
“...Starving yourself?”
“...yes?”
“You still need to eat dumbass.”
“Whatever. Wh…cough…what are we doing here?”, he is able to sputter out.
“Box racing”, she responds.
He looks over to the left of him. Two cardboard boxes and a steep, steep hill. Uh oh.
“Isn’t…uh…that dangerous?”, he awkwardly sputters out.
“Only if you don’t know what you are doing.”, she confidently states.
“...And I don’t know what I'm doing.”, he reiterates, hopefully to coax her out of these daring stunts.
“Only one way to learn!”, she exclaims, and jumps into her box, screaming at the top of her lungs, gaining momentum, and then slides all
the
way
D
O
W
N.

“Jesus.”, he exclaims, looking on as she effortlessly slides down the mountain with ease. Does she have to always do stuff like this? Always has to be in control? Like shesHe stands, in awe of her, and in spite of her looks at the easy to walk down path. “Maybe”, he thinks, but knows the backlash he’ll get if he chickens out. Looking back at the mountain edge, he reassesses the danger. What’s the worst that could happen? A couple, what, broken bones? A few bloody noses? “Sure, that’s fine! I can handle that!” he thinks as he jumps into the box, clanging his feet on the bottom of the cardboard and busting it wide open. He slides out of the box, and tumbles out of the box, down the mountain, feet first.

Fuck.

This album is a man who is falling down a fucking mountain. Crashing against the mountain side, he reawakens to find a lot of his body mangled. Destroyed. Broken. Twitching. Beyond repair. An ambulance pulls up, with two people coming out. “Are you OK?”, his partner says. Dazed, blacking out, he finally replies while being carried out on a stretcher. “What a funny way to speak!”, he remarks, finally fading into unconsciousness. Dying free…at least this time.

He wakes up in a sweat. He looks around, and sees his airplane environment. Someone next to him nudges him. An old lady. “Are you quite alright my dear?”, she proclaims. “Y..yeah. Just a little anxious on planes, that’s all”, he says. “Oh, that’s quite alright deary. You know, my husband flew the Conchord when it first launched! It was one of the fastest planes I ever saw!”, the old lady remarks. “Oh really?”, the man responds. “Yes, indeed!”, the woman responds. “He died shortly after the plane exploded.”

…This album is a man who is very fucking confused on what just happened, and tries to go back to sleep.

Ding dong.

“We are now landing.”

"This place is not for any man, nor particles of bread."

This album is a man who is fucking tired. He slumps all of his luggage into the nearest motel, checks the bags under his eyes, slamming the door shut with his foot. He checks his surroundings. A mirror with the corner chipped. One empty bookshelf. A single mattress bed. A mini-fridge, sink, cupboard and white toaster, with a bit of rust on the side of metal. His shoulders sloped like they were chained to the floor. He looked over at the unmade bed. One sentence: “Fuck it.”, and he feel to his bed.

This album is a man who is still checking his phone for someone who he doesn’t even know if they hate him or not. The battery is low, but he is still trying to check it anyway. “C’mon, little phone that could…”, he mumbles to himself. The signal is nearly non-existent, but it’s still got some juice left. Enough to get a text, he thought. He’s staring at the LED screen, with the words he sent in the most romantically anxious way he could: “miss you already!”. What a ladies man. This album is a man who lets out a deep, but cathartic sigh, and puts his phone next to him. He lies, defeated, eyes barely open, spread out on the bed like jam on toast. Delicious…crunchy…jam…

…This man is hungry.

He manages to get enough energy to go to the store around the corner and buy himself a loaf.
‘Ding ding’, goes the doorbell to the store. The cashier looks at the man funny. “You look like shit.”, says the cashier. ‘Man, the big city!’, the man thinks to himself, and responds with “Feel like it too.”. “You new around here?”, the man asks, sweeping the mans money into his cash register. “Yeah, just stopping by though.”
“What’s your plan? Moving in?”, the cashier inquires.
“...Uh, i’m not sure. Kind of just moved to get away from my hometown.”, he responds.
“Gotta get away sometime. You got a place?”
“Yeah, just around the corner.”
“What, the motel?”
“Yeah.”
“...D…do you need a job?”
“...Yeah. I was gonna ask if any jobs were going in the city.”
“...oh boy…”
“What?”
“Look, tell you what, get your CV in tomorrow and I can see if we can work on something.”, the cashier offers.
“Uh…that would be great!”, he replies.
He quickly escapes out the door, until he hears the cashier whistle. He quickly snaps around. Did he want him to start right away? Is this how you get jobs in the city? Fuck, how much is it gonna pay?
“...Yes?”, he nervously responds.
“You almost forgot your bread.”

He slumps all of his bread onto the counter, checks the bags under his eyes, slamming the door shut with his foot and rushes to the bathroom. He sees a disgusting hole in the floor that technically is a toilet, and chooses to hold it. He pops the toaster on, sits down and looks at his phone.

You have one new notification!

“Fuck shit dick cock fuck piss ass dick cock fuck”, he eloquently thinks to himself. His hands start a race to the phone, grabbing the Android with the tips of his fingers and somehow catching it, charger plugged in, into his palm. He yanks the plug, pulls towards him, and reads silently to himself the notification.

One New Text Message: u 2!

…well. That’s a tad underwhelming.

Flink!

The toast is ready.

As he crunches through the toast, he looks around. Nothing but dark shadows, an open window and a mirror to keep him company. This isn’t really the bustling city he thought it would be, but it’ll get better. It has to. He wraps himself in a blanket, tries to keep warm, grabs the grubby pillow and lays down. He tries not to think of himself for one second. Tries to think less of the holes he made in Black Country that still need filling, that hopefully he can fill in his stay here. He closes his eyes. Slowly, the jet lag sends him to sleep. A peaceful, yet uncomfortable, peace of mind. The crumbs getting into the cracks of his back. “Maybe she’ll send another one”, he thinks. “Maybe.”. In the back of his mind, he thinks “She already doesn’t care that I tried my best to hold you through the headset that she wears.”.

What a funny way to speak indeed.

"She had Billie Eilish style, moving to Berlin for a little while, tryna find something to hold on to…"

“So cool”, he thinks.

This album is a man who is trying his best, and is looking at his very first paycheck. A whole $550 bucks! Working at a rundown convenience store certainly does have its merits; nothing too stressful, right next door to where he lives, nice people, easy paycheck to help rent. It’s easy. Seductively easy. “I could probably do something with this”, he thinks, and sets half aside for himself. In the weekend he’s spent over here, it feels more like a holiday in his mind. He’s found his feet, and he just wants someone to help him balance, but he’s not gonna admit that.
Ding!
“Speak of the devil”, he thinks. Checking his phone, he gets a text.
“You got work today?”, says the phone. He’s been trying to keep it cool with the girl from his hometown, y’know? (Well, cool-ish for him. I’m pretty sure celebrities are confident like this in their own lives, right? Like, I'm sure Billie Eillish isn’t scared to text someone, right?)
“Yeah, but it’s only a 6 hour shift.”, he replies. Smooth.
Ding.
“Oh sick! I should be able to call you then!”, the phone responds.
Gulp.
“Oh yeah, sounds great!”, he texts with slightly sweaty hands. ‘Don'tringDon'tringDon'tringDon'tringDon'tringDon'tringDon'tringDon'tringDon'tringDon'tring’, his brain flashes through.
“Sweet! 3pm sounds good?”, the phone immediately responds.
“Yep! Message me if you change your mind!”, he spurts out. How is he even bad at text talk?
He shoves the phone in his pocket. “Cross that bridge when we get to it.”, he foolishly thinks, and heads to work.

Ding ding!

“So…”, says the cashier, “What’s she like?”.
The man is just trying to stack some chips on the shelf, but darts his head over to the cashier. “Who?”.
“This woman you keep talking about. From your hometown?”, says the cashier.
“Oh, what about her?”
“...what’s she like? You talk about her all the time, ‘Oh we are texting’ this and ‘Oh it’s complicated’ that. What’s she like, what’s her passion?”.
“Oh…well, she's kinda…she’s very outgoing. Likes music a lot. Really into her studies.”
“Oh what is she studying?”, says the cashier.
“...I don’t know.”, he responds.
“...smooth.”, the cashier responds.
“No, but shes cool, shes cool.”, he regresses.
“How?”, the cashier questions.
“Huh?”
“How cool?”.
“Uh….like…you know, effortless…cough….effortlessly cool. Like uh…Billie Eillish?”, he stutters.

There is an effective silence.

“...Billie Eilish?”, the cashier questions.
“Yeah, like her.”
“Did you just compare your crush to Billie Eillish?”
“Well, she’s not really a crush, it’s…it’s complicated, see…”
“OK, sorry,”, interrupts the cashier, “You compared your GIRLFRIEND to Billie Eillish?”.
“Well…ok..yeah, not the best comparison I could have made, but the point still stands, she is just kind of…cool, you know?”, he blutters out.
“...right.”, says the cashier, going back to managing the till.
‘Yeah’, the guy thinks. ‘She’s cool.’

Later, he’s laying on his bed again. This album is a man with his leg shaking. He’s gripping to his phone a little too hard. He opens it up. Headline: Apollo 51 heads to space. ‘Neat’, he thinks. ‘How brave must they be, to leave their world behind in order to shoot for the stars’, he ponders, almost like a child, imagining himself in a similar situation, blasting through aliens just to save adying ship on the verge of collapse. ‘Cooooooool’, he thinks.

Vrrt Vrrt!
‘...shit, it’s 3 already?’
Vrrt Vrrt!
He looks at his phone. It’s a call incoming. From her.
Vrrt Vrrt!
‘Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck’, he thinks, making sure his opening is solid. ‘A simple hey?’
Vrrt Vrrt!
‘How about a whats up? Maybe a funny joke, like an ice breaker.’
Vrrt Vrrt!
‘OOOoo, I could pretend like I didn’t realize it was her, that would be funny!’
Vrrt Vrrt!
‘Nah, that’s dum-oh fuck, she’s waiting. Just hit something!’

“Ignore the hole I've dug again…It's only for the evening…”

He hits accept.

A muffled, but still understandable voice comes through.
‘Hello?’
Yep, that’s her.

‘Hey!’, he responds. ‘Long time no talk! Haha!’
That could work, sure. Smooth as ass cheeks.

‘Yeah, kind of an awkward goodbye though. Sorry for uh…’

‘Oh no, it’s cool, it’s cool, yeah that was uh…wait, you go.’

‘No, you go, I was done.’, she says.

‘Oh, yeah, I was just saying it was awkward. Kinda left in a rush.’, he says.

‘I mean, makes sense. You really hated Black Country so…I get it, I suppose.’

‘Hey…your not mad at me leaving, are you?’

‘What, no! Nononono, not at all! I’m super glad your moving on and finding something else. It’s really cool to see. I just…’

…’...What? Sorry, did I say somethi-’

‘No it’s fine, it’s just…sigh…I miss you.’

Explosions.

‘...yeah.’

‘...yeah?’

‘I mean, yeah, I…uh…I miss you too.’

‘...Well, this is a horrible way to start a conversation.’

‘I guess, but we were never that good at that in Black Country either.’

‘I guess not. You still need to stop saying sorry.’

‘Sorry.’

‘...Are you fucking kidding me?’

‘Wait, what?

‘Dude, you just said it again!’

‘Wait, what, sorry?’

‘Oh my god, hahahahha!’

‘I CANT STOP MYSELF AAAAAHGH’

‘YOUR A MANIAC! Hahahha!’

‘OH GOD NOOOOO! Hehehehe.’

‘Hehehe..mm.’

‘What’s with the mm?’

‘No just…your laugh. It’s cute.’

‘It is?’

He sits back. “This is going…too well.”, he thinks to himself. All of a sudden, the room looks lighter. It’s like her perfect hands came from the phone to light a candle. Healed his broken bones.

‘I mean, I was going for a more tough guy approach, something more cool. Y’know?’

‘What, with your laugh?’

‘Oh yeah. I’ve convinced the entire staff that i’m an ex-Marine who has come back from war.’

‘...You’re a twink though.’

‘TWINKS CAN STILL BE MARINES!’

‘...suuuuuure, ya dork.’

‘Am not.’

‘Are too.’

They go on for several hours. They talk about everything. His job, her studies (Music, which he should have expected.), his life, her plans.

‘I think I might move out.’

‘Oh yeah? Where too?’

‘...I don’t know yet. Maybe…pffft…Haldern?’

‘Oh, wow. Huh.’

‘What?’

‘No, nothing, I just wasn’t expecting that. Was expecting something like…Berlin, or something.’

‘Nah, i’ve always wanted to go to Haldern. I’ve got family out there and I think the tutors told me it’s easier to make it in Germany then Black Country, so i’m just gonna shoot for the moon!’

‘I mean that makes sense.’
Cool, he thought. More distance.

‘When you leaving?’

‘Uhhh….I don’t really know. Maybe sometime during the fall?’

‘The Fall? Band?’

‘Hilarious.’

‘I’m know for my comedy chops out here.’

‘I thought you were an ex-marin-’

‘YEP, FUNNIEST MAN ALIVE.’

‘Hehehhehehe.’

‘Ugh, now your laugh is cute.’

‘We can both have cute laughs.’

‘Yeah?’, he says.
‘Yeah’, she says.

‘Welp…I have to go’, she says.

‘Aw, already?’, he says.

‘Dude, it’s like 12 over here. We’ve been calling for like 4 hours.’

‘...huh. Doesn’t feel like that.’

‘Welp, goodnight. Talk to you some other time?’

‘...yeah. Some other time. I’ll have several people forma circle around your house and call you at the same time, that’ll be my revenge.’

‘Hmm, sure. Anyway, goodnight.’

‘Goodnight!’

Dink Donk!

Silence. The warmest silence he could ask for. This album is a man who is riding high, and doesn’t wanna come down. He checks the time. ‘1:02AM’. Fuck.
He wraps himself up in an undershirt she gave him as a gift. It was slightly too big for him, but hey, might as well keep warm. He snuggles into his bed, and brushes off the crumbs. As he doses off, he hopes she’ll call again. He prays for the pain of her not being there to leave him.

Hopefully it does.

‘Good morning! Show me the place where he inserted the blade.’

‘And that's how's I broke my arm in high school.’, she says.

It’s been a couple of months, and the schedule has been working pretty well. Work in the morning, get home, make lunch, call her, go to sleep. A productive day, to say the least, and one that is nice and easy.

‘What a story!’, he exclaims, half serious.

‘I know it’s not the most exciting, but I thought it was interesting. The weird thing is that all the kids, even kids who didn’t know me, as SOON as they heard I was hurting, immediately went to check up on me. Like, some bullies even did that!’, she says.

‘They probably all just wanted to sign your cast or something.’, he retorts.

‘Yeah, but like…it’s weird.’, she says.

‘No, people do that all the time. They check up on you as soon as you have even a little crack of unwellness, and as soon as you're better, they kick you to the curb. It happens all the goddamn time in Black Country that it’s crazy.’, he rants.

‘Yeah…but some of those people were really nice.’, she remarks.

‘...True. There are nice people…just very few and far between.’, he notes.

‘Well, what about you, what was the moment for you like that?’, she asks.

His brain explodes. “I don’t think she’d like to talk about the time that t̷̸̀͢h͏̶͞e̴̡ ̴̧̀́́t̀͞i̵̧m͝͡e̛҉͟ ̴҉̷͘t̀́̕h̶̴̴̛͠a̵̷͢͠ţ̴͝ ͏̢̡Í̕ ̷̢a҉̨̛̀҉ļ̸̛m̨͜͠o͝s̶t̨́̕̕ ̸̛t̨̕͢ŕ̸́i̷̧̧e͠͞d͡͠҉ ̷̷̀͜t̛͘͏ò ̸̶́͘͞k̸̸̡҉i͏͟l̀͜͞ĺ̨͠ ͟͜͝͞͡m̸͜͝͠y̵͢͞͝͝s͘͜͟͠ę̴̛l̷̶f͜͟͠ ̢͢͜b̷̨͏̵͞y̸̢͜͝ ̡̢͜͟͞ś͘͢͝ļ҉̴i̵̧c̶̢͠i͘͡͏̵̸ņ̢̧͘͜g̶͝͞ ͞m͜͠y̛͢͠ ̨̕t̢͝h̛҉̶̧͝r̶҉ò̡́͟͜a̴̛͢͢t͡҉҉̀͏ ̶͞o̷̢̡͢͠p̵҉e͞n̶̷̨ ̶̢̡̧i̕n͘̕͢ ́͞a̷̵̷͜͠ ̶̀͜͠b̸̧͞͝a̶͘̕t̡́͘͢h̶̴́r͟͝ó͟͏͏ǫ̴͝m̛̕͢ ̨҉̨̨́s͟͠t̸̴͟͠a̶̡̕͟ļ̷ĺ̸̶͝,҉̸ ̴̵͟͞g̕͝ó̴̶d̵҉̨ ̡̢͜I̡̡͟ ̵̵͠҉n̷̕é̴͢e̡͘̕͘͡d̶̵̢ ̴̵t͢ǫ̴͟ ̸͘͘ś̶̵̷̨t̶̨̡ǫ̀͠p҉̶̸̧ ̛͝t̕͏̧͏h̢́͢i̶̛n҉̛̛͞k̷̀̕͝i̸̵̴͟͠n̸̨͞g̶҉͠ ̵̧͟à͜b̕͟͡͡o̸ứ̸́͢t̸̀̕͡͏ ̵̡̛͟t҉ḩ̨́͜͠a͞͝t͝͞.͘͡ ̸̴́̀͡I̧͜͞ ̕͞҉̷̸j̸̵u̕͜͝҉s̡̧̕͞͠t̡̧͘̕ ̷̴̢͝͞w͏̵̸̕a̷͞n̨̨͡n͜͜͟͏á̵͠ ̧҉́͡m̴͟o̧͟͞v҉̛ȩ̷͟͠ ̕ǫ͜͡͝ņ̕ ̛͠͝f̛̀͝o̷̢͟ŗ́͜͏͠ ̸̴̛f̴͢u̸̵͜c̡͘҉҉̢k̢̡̛͡s̀͏̷̧ ̨̛͞͝͡s̡̀͝à̸̧̢͢ķe͢͞,͞͞ ͏̷̛̕͜Ì̵̕ ̨͘͞w̷̧͟͢a̷҉̴n̵̛n̢̛͟͞á̴ ̨́s̵͏t̨͝͝o͠҉̛́p̸̴̨̢̨ ̸̶̢̢͡b̡̨̨̨͞e̸͝҉i̷̷̡̕n̵͟͟͠g̷͠ ̷̷͜͝͡s̸͘c̸̛a̢̨͟r̸̀͘͢͞e͟҉d̵̛͟,̷̛͘͞ ̢̀I̶͢͝ ̨̨̢̧͟w̨̡̡͠͞a͘͠͝n̢͡ņ̵̕͠á̶̷̧͝ ͏̶̷͢s҉̢́t̸̛͞͡ò̷̡̢͜p̕҉ ̧͏͘b̸̵́ę̸̶͘i͘ǹ̨́͢͟g̡͟ ͝ą̷̧͜͝f͏̸̀̀r̶̴̨͟a҉̡̀̕i̕d̶̸̡̧͜,̸͜ ̴̴̷̡͟f́̀́͠u̴̡̨ç̸̧̢͠k̛͘҉ ́͟͡͞f̶̸̨͡͏u̧̕͠ć̶͝͝k̶͘ ̶͝҉͢͢f̨͟u͏̨c̡͟k̷̨̛͟͜ ̵̕҉̛s̸̕h̡̛͠ì̵̀͢t̢͘͜,̷̷̵̵ ̴͞g̵̕ǫ̴̸d̸͢͠ ҉̡͟҉̸g̸̶͜͢ȩ͘͡͝ţ̶̕͜͠ ̧̡̧̛í̴̕͞͞t̷̢̀͡ ̧̛͠ó̵̕ừ̧͘͜t̶̵̸̢͟ ̶̸̛̕o̡f͠҉ ̷̴̀͠m̶͡y̸̸ ̀h̷͘͢e͢͢͡͡a̕͞d̷̸,I͏͘ ͏j͏u҉̶̨s̸͠t̸ n̶̵͞ee͞͡d ̀t͞o̵ ҉d̷̡̡e̵a̶̛͡l̢͠͞ ̢͝wit͏͢͞h̵ ̢͢t͢͝h̛a͘͢t̷ ̨͟͟b̷y̧͢ m̨y͟s͢elf̵.͜͜ ͘A̶̢͡nd ́̕͟Į́ ̴̧͟c͡aņ͟ d́͘͞o̷ ̵̧͏t́͝h́͟at͞.͜͜ ̧I̵̙̺ ͉͕̻͓̼̼c̬ą̙̟͖̗̳͖̖n̗͜ ̼d̮̭̰o̵̪͕̮̮̰ ̙͎̀th̟̕a̼̜̹̪͞ͅt͔̲̮͚̲͜.̷̞ ̗̘A̛̙͕̙n̨̻̹̼d I̞ ̗̭͍̻͢w̡̠̪̦̜̘̤̟i̛̯ͅl̞͞l̝̺ ̖ḏ͍̜͎̝̺̻o̝͎̪̰̫͕ t̝̝̝̳͝h͙̗̯͚̲̲̰a̰͔̭̖̥͘ț̱͈̻̗̳̳.̶̰̫”͓̩̼̙̲

Yeah, that would be slightly upsetting.

‘I don’t really wanna talk about it.’, he states.

‘...you sure you don’t wanna talk about it?’, she says, reassuring.

‘Nah..i’m good. I just think I wanna move on. As if it never happened at all. I’m tired of freaking out about it.’, he says.

‘OK, but the first step to doing that is talking about it.’, she says.

‘...Some other time?’, he begs.

‘...Promise you’ll tell me?’, she says.

‘I promise. Tomorrow.’, he says.

‘OK. I love you.’, she beacons.

That shoots him in the head like a loaded gun. His eyes widened, like God himself jumped into his house. Praise the fucking Lord.

‘I love you too.’, he repeated.

The grin on his face is practically stapled on.

‘Alright, well, talk tomorrow?’, she says.

‘Yeah..I just gotta get some sleep.’, he states.

‘Well, we both know you're not really sleeping.’, she says.

‘True.’

‘I love you.’

‘I love you too.’

Dink Donk!

“Oh, god of weather, Henry knows Snow globes don't shake on their own…”

This album is a man who explodes. He dances around the room, he skips around his house, his miniature mansion he made seems like a massive ballroom now. He dances around his toilet bowl. He jumps and bumps his head on the ceiling. He is the happiest he has ever, and possibly has ever been. He lays down. The surge of energy rushes through him. “Holy fuck”, he exclaims to himself. His entire body is at peace. His mind is calmed. He feels holy.

He looks at his surroundings. A mirror with the corner chipped. One empty bookshelf. A single mattress bed. A mini-fridge, sink, cupboard and white toaster, with a bit of rust on the side of metal. A very shitty toilet. All of that doesn’t matter to him. He has finally found someone who he deemed to love him. To him, all that surrounds him doesn’t matter. That’s his home. He’s finally come home, for the first time. He looks at his phone. He chucks some ear pieces on, and grabs a random song. When We Were Young by The Killers, perfect. For the longest time, it’s felt like this man's life has been clamped on by life in general. We must let the clamp do what the clamp does best, after all. But, he found a friend, one that he loved, one that he kept by his side. A drum solo beat in his chest. He takes an ear piece out, just to hear the rain pour down. He excitedly runs outside.

This album is a man who is soaking wet. He doesn't give a fuck. He just lets the rain pour, and pour and pour. He falls to his knees. He starts to cry. He doesn’t really know why, but he just does. He collapses to the floor of a motel parking lot, lays down on the wet floor, and lies as the God of Weather does what he needs to do: let the rain fall. The rain, slowly, turns to snow. Snow Globes don’t shake on their own apparently.

They just need someone to give a little shake.

"And I haven't felt this way in like ever I am the convo, you are the weather"

“Do you think that these jeans fit me?”, says the man. This album is a man who is trying out something new. He’s looking kinda strange with a fresh style, but hey, it suits him.

“I mean…they fit?”, says the cashier.

“Well, does that mean that they are bad?”, says the man.

“Well not baaaad, just…it has a very certain aesthetic? I guess?”, says the cashier, desperately trying to clean the bench to distract himself from giving his opinions about those awful boyfriend jeans.

“Like…good aesthetic or bad aesthetic?”, the man says.

“Why do you care about jeans, anyway? It’s just pants man!”, the cashier says.

“Well, She is coming over. She’s visiting for the first time and I wanna look…cool.”, he says.

“I think that someone you’ve been calling for the last 5 months is going to think your already cool, dude.”, the cashier states.

“I guess. Still”, he says, hanging up toilet paper, “I don’t wanna let her down or anything. It’s been a bit since she's seen me in person.”

“Eh. Do what you wanna do. It’s your relationship”, says the cashier. “What time are you meeting her?”.

An hour later.

This album is a man in a hurry. He looks out of his rental car window. He sees another concord, flying high in the sky, escaping to somewhere else. Somewhere different. Somewhere new. For the longest time, he felt that the Conchord in his heart was destroying him. Making his room a mess. But for the first time, he’s felt at peace with the Conchord. Yes, it will fly, but it will finally land somewhere new, somewhere fresh, and somewhere he can call home.

With a packed lunch, he feels normal. He feels at peace, knowing that she’s gonna be there soon. He’s normalized the feelings inside of himself, and is ready to see the rest of the world with someone else. “We're all working on ourselves, and we're praying that the rest don't mind how much we've changed”, he thinks to himself.

15 minutes until boarding…

He has barely looked at his phone. In fact, he left it at home. He doesn’t need to be on his ship, when his compass is right in front of him. He feels the sensation of butterflies in his stomach. It’s a jittery, almost frantic feeling within himself. Like he’s ready to explode. He notices that he looks a little weird. Drowning in baggy pants, a clean shirt with a hair on it. Does that look cool? He wonders, but doesn’t act.

10 minutes until boarding…

He wonders if how he acted in the past will be how he acts now. His anxieties, while not gone, were certainly in the moment, and his fears of becoming his father were more shaken than fears of the unknown. He has his entire life ahead of him. He’ll figure it out. His clamped cheek still tortures him, but he has learned to at least smile. He takes a deep breath in, and a deep breath out. What he once was forms the background noise, the drone of the past, and instead is looking towards the future, away from the drone. They’ll both sing the rest.

Flight 2005 has now landed.

Anxiety springs up on him. Like a shrieking choir. Like a deafening child. He feels like a buildup of tension is rising in his chest. He wonders if he can even handle any more. He fear he might piss the bed on this one. And then, he looks up.

“Hi, Charlie.”, he says.

Silent. She just looks at him. Has she always looked like this? Was she always this beautiful?
Did he get new pants? Was he always this cute?

“Hi, Henry.”, she says.

“How was the flight?”, he says.

“Oh, it was wonderful! You know, when you look down, everything looks so small.”, she says.

“Yeah, people look like…”, he starts.

He stops.

He just stares at her. He doesn’t want this moment to end, but he knows in order to begin a moment, he needs to end one.

“Like what?” she says.

“...Nothing. Let’s get something to eat.”, he says.

“...were you going to say they look like ants from up there?”, she remarks, as they both walk away.

“Wouldn’t be the first time.”, he states.

They walk beside each other. Not for the first time, but for many days to come. At least, for a little while. Peace of mind was given to him, and finally, he starts walking down this new road he created for himself. He’s scared, shaking in his boots, but he has someone to hold onto.

Her generous loan.

The world's crippling interest.

Favorite Jams: The Place Where He Inserted the Blade, Basketball Shoes, Conchord

Lest Favorite: Intro

22 Comments
6mo
Ik it's the first day, but I easily prefer this over ftft. What are your thoughts?
6mo
wow pipe wow good will hunting not 100
6mo
@Aydn soon ...
6mo
don't necessarily agree with you on this one, very very fun review to read tho. <3
6mo
Ryan, this is an absolute behemoth of a review/analysis(/short story??????) that I cannot for the life of me imagine how much effort and time it took to make. I'm so impressed; you really have hit one of the highest points in your history on this site. Unfollowed, blocked and reported <3
6mo
@Schaefersea thank you so much, that comment made my entire week, you are immediately jailed
6mo
reasonable reaction to this album
6mo
shoutout to you for being the best writer ever (i am not biased at all i promise)
6mo
@Charlise no bias but thank you ❤️
6mo
One of the best review ever!! Well done Ryan :)
6mo
@AndreManfre93 thank you very much :)
6mo
Amazing fucking review!!! Probably one of your best ones!
6mo
Totally awesome. Super cool to see you so passionate about this record. Glad you enjoyed it so much!
6mo
Holy shit this is probably the best review i've ever read
6mo
10/10 short story inside of the review, very cool, one might say
6mo
@Plats @Tristan @notmike0 @TrashyTasteGeek thank you all so much, it's been awesome reading everyone's reaction to the review, I really appreciate it!
6mo
didn’t read 90% of this but still appreciate that you can write that much and (from what I’ve seen) write very efficiently. kudos.

ps I’m the 100th like muhahahaha
6mo
@ImplicitDoom thanks?
6mo
u better say thanks bucko or I will
3mo
Damn, this was a crazy review. Felt like a thrill ride i swear. Glad we agree on the score but holy shit your writing is impeccable and I really look up to this. I hope to write as good as you someday
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