Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up There
Feb 4, 2022
NR
Ants From Up There is a perfect representation of why I love music. It’s unique, artistic, and genuine. This sophomore record from the evolving British masterminds that we know and love as Black Country, New Road shows so much personality, and the chemistry between the band has improved in every aspect over such a short period of time.

The group sounds very comfortable playing all together, and it makes for all the more enjoyment throughout the album. Tyler, Lewis, Georgia, May, Charlie, and Luke are the members, apart from the bold talent of lead vocalist and guitarist Isaac Wood. Unfortunately, Isaac decided to depart from the group days before the release of this record. The ambivalent emotions behind this loss made for a bittersweet experience to say the least.

Beginning the record with a brief intro was a nice change of pace compared to the grand “Instrumental” from the debut record For The First Time. The guitars took action at the perfect time while the saxophonist, Lewis, had a shining moment. The track ends abruptly, leaving me confused as to why there was no transition leading into the first single “Chaos Space Marine”. Chaos Space Marine was a slightly misleading choice for the opening single, but as the record came together as a whole, it seems like a perfect fit. The track left me wondering if the band would make an album full of theater-based tracks, but that is obviously not the case. Following the track is the third single “Concorde” which is my favorite of the four singles released before the record. I always feel like I leave with more than I went in with when it comes to this track. Although the lyrics are depressing, the song is comforting and charming. The way the pace changes throughout the song is interesting, because no matter how loud or quiet the song becomes, the mood doesn’t change. The previous single, Bread Song, sets a more emotional tone for the record. The title of the track still confuses me, but nonetheless, Bread Song gets better with every listen. In fact, all three singles took time to grow on me. No matter how different each of them are, they flow very well together on the final product.

Good Will Hunting is a beautiful song about love, featuring some of their best work lyrically. The female vocalist in the background of the chorus was quiet, but effective in droves. It’s also really nice to hear pop culture references within songs. The alternative pop superstar Billie Eilish is mentioned during the track, relating her style to the love interest Isaac sings about. It’s amazing how the buildup to the ending of the track is so natural, turning into a manic connection with all the instruments at once, yet it’s barely noticeable how it becomes that way from the calming intro. “Haldern” begins with a depressing mood, and it’s incredible how the instruments alone create a buildup that allows Isaac to pull himself out of this heart-wrenching mental state. The track is utterly emotional, yet uplifting at the same time. Black Country, New Road have raw talent when it comes to creating multiple moods and outlooks in almost every track within their minimal catalog. Just like the record’s opening track “Intro”, Mark’s Theme allows Lewis to shine. The track is quiet and soothing while keeping the element of simplicity present. The person mumbling at the end of the track is a strange add-on. It’s quite humorous, so it’s not bothersome.

With seven tracks in, an overwhelming amount of pace changes and mood swings have occured. What is incredible to me is that the record has a three track ending which seems like an album in itself. “The Place Where He Inserted the Blade” seems like it could’ve been the outro of the record, but it worked out well at track eight as the true outro was perfectly chosen. This track sounds like a modern-day classic ballad, and I admire it in every way. The chemistry of the entire band is priceless throughout the seven minute run time. The ending seems like the band is driving away, seeking out to find their destiny. It’s truly an incredible song. The most strange thing about this record is the fact that “Snow Globes” was a single. Snow Globes is such an album track, leaving a perfect gap for the songs it’s in between. The calming intro grows to become manic, and after a while it returns to the peaceful start. The nine minutes go by, and I’m ready for the grand outro. Little did I know it would be quite like this…

Basketball Shoes deserves it’s own paragraph. How do I even begin to describe the twelve minute adventure this track takes me on? Tracks like this only come around once in a lifetime; That doesn’t mean it’s the best song of all time, it just means that nothing could come close to comparing to it. Basketball Shoes is split into three parts. The first part feels like a warm up that will become something more as the track progresses. When the first part takes a close, the second part features a terrifying and manic buildup which ends abruptly as a guitar comes in and immediately calms down the track, but with no surprise, the track builds up once again. As the third part begins, the instruments are too quiet for comfort, which quickly turns into an alarming wrath of a loud grandiose musical experience that is hard to put into words. As Isaac takes the lead and the band plays all together, it feels like the true ending of the incredible story, the mastery, and the genius of Ants From Up There.

Black Country, New Road made an album that is hard to wrap my head around. These members who are barely in college created a master-class experience that blew my mind on first listen. Don’t get me wrong, For The First Time is an incredible debut, but I don’t think it even compares to the pure excellence of Ants From Up There. Thank you for everything Isaac, you are truly one of the greats.

2 Comments
10mo
Brilliant review :)
9mo
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