Words by Natalie Blacklock
The United Kingdom has never had a shortage of talented punk bands over last the 30-40 years. Bands like The Clash, The Damned, The Exploited and The Sex Pistols built their reputation in sweaty basements, creating a space for like-minded young people to proudly fly the flag for alternative music. More recently, the likes of Bring Me The Horizon, Enter Shikari, and Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes have continued to shine a light on punk and its ever-growing array of sub-genres. The talent coming out of this part of the world is undeniable and more impressive than ever – one such example is that of Blackpool outfit, Boston Manor. With a sound that blends punk and emo with heavier influences, reminiscent of 1990’s grunge and early 2000’s post-hardcore, the 5-piece which formed in 2013, have leaped from strength-to-strength, creating a name for themselves both at home and overseas. With a penchant for delivering emotive, thought-provoking tunes and outwardly cathartic, anthemic live shows (their first ever Australian live show at Stay Gold in Melbourne supporting The Wonder Years on their Good Things Festival sideshow was well worth the flight from Brisbane, trust me!)
Boston Manor are:
Henry Cox – Vocals
Mike Cunniff – Guitar
Ash Wilson – Guitar
Dan Cunniff – Bass
Jordan Pugh – Drums
Following the release of their full-length records ‘Be Nothing’ in 2016 and ‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood’ in 2018, Boston Manor have really come into their own. Having toured alongside the likes of fellow Englishmen Moose Blood across the United Kingdom, with Floridian punks A Day To Remember and as part of the 2017 Vans Warped Tour line-up in the United States of America and as part of the inaugural Good Things Festival line-up in Australia, the band have built a solid fan-base the world over. Boston Manor’s latest effort, ‘GLUE’ was produced by Mike Sapone and engineered by Brett Romnes at The Barber Shop Studios in New Jersey. The result is a slew of refined tracks that robustly and dramatically weave their way through the maze of frustrations and angst going on around the world at the time of writing the album. ‘GLUE’ was released on May 1st via Pure Noise Records/ Sony Music Australia and let me tell you, it’s an absolute ripper of a record.
‘GLUE’ TRACK LISTING:
- Everything Is Ordinary
- 1’s & 0’s
- Plasticine Dreams
- Terrible Love
- On A High Ledge
- You, Me & The Class War
- Playing God
- Brand New Kids
- Stuck In The Mud
The opening track of ‘GLUE’, Everything Is Ordinary, bursts into your eardrums with a menacing industrial / synth driven rhythm along with mechanical vocals from Frontman Henry Cox that feels chaotic and highly charged. This opening cut is an outright attack on the senses – a raucous blast of pure punk energy with a dark undertone, which although different from the band’s previous efforts, is coming in hot as Boston Manor’s rallying cry for this record.
1’s & 0’s definitely takes another step further into chaotic territory, with soaring guitars and experimental drum loops at the forefront of its sound. It’s mad, choppy and hits the right spot for a little bit of a mosh, and will undoubtedly become a staple of a Boston Manor live set. The next track, Plasticine Dreams, is a huge change of pace from the opening of ‘GLUE’ and sits out from the rest of the record both sonically and thematically. The song presents a more grunge-inspired sound, with frontman Henry Cox’s elegant yet somewhat laid-back vocal melodies drifting comfortably atop tight instrumentation from the band, creating an uplifting track that JUST make you feel good.
Boston Manor‘s continued development on ‘GLUE’ comes in the form of “cool power-ballad” Terrible Love. Lyrically, the song is quite personal for frontman Henry Cox, whose approach to this track was to write a load of things he hated about himself, literally taking them line-for-line into the song – creating a track that is a tearjerker, a singalong and a badge of heart-on-the-sleeve honesty all-in-one. The ominous and sinister sounding, electro-laden On A High Ledge follows, tackling an important and poignant message in its 3:32 runtime. Boston Manor take their listeners on a point-of-view journey of the unflinching reality of the culture of toxic masculinity, and the fallout that can ensue when young boys are taught that to be a man means to keep one’s emotions tightly bottled. The song’s eerie instrumental begins in a minimalist fashion with just a synth and stuttering hi-hats, gradually adding layers before culminating in a wall of sound, mirroring the ways in which suppressing emotions in this way can lead many young boys and men to their breaking point.
The rocky and playful Only1 is a sexy and powerful transition, with just the right amount of swagger evident from the opening notes. This track effortlessly flits back and forth between grooving melodic sections and thunderously heavy moments, captured perfectly by bassist Dan Cunniff and drummer Jordan Pugh. Plus, the shift between the harshness of the screams and softness of the clean vocals really highlights the dynamic range of frontman Henry Cox.
Up next is a fresh and confrontational energy on the edgy You, Me & The Class War (the title is a sneaky nod to 2012 album ‘You, Me, And The Violence’ by French Hardcore outfit Birds In Row). At its core, this track is a straight up, no-holds-barred, vitriolic punk song that likens the increasing divide between Britain’s younger and older generation to an abusive relationship. With its heavy thematic tones, frontman Cox’s harsh screams juxtaposed with softer vocal moments and deafening drums from Jordan Pugh, this track is an early album favourite. If the drum sounds on this record are your thing, then Playing God is sure to be up your alley. Brilliantly heavy riffs with lower octave guitars courtesy of Mike Cunniff and Ash Wilson and the seductive vocals of frontman Cox combine to envelope the senses in the best way possible. Although, it’s a track filled with real pessimism, it carries a subtle ambience until the chorus builds and knocks your socks off.
One of the earliest tracks written for the album, Brand New Kids offers something a little bit different to the rest of ‘GLUE’. The combination of piano tones, intricate guitarwork from Mike Cunniff and Ash Wilson and the sultry vocals from frontman Henry Cox offer feel-good vibes, hitting highs so sweet that you won’t know you’re addicted until you are. Next up is Ratking, which is very much a ‘signature’ Boston Manor track and could have easily be a B-side to 2018 track Welcome To The Neighbourhood. Released in early March as a pre-cursor to the album, it features distorted guitars and a heavier spin through the bridge and chorus, igniting the fierce energy we’ve come to expect from the 5-piece.
Minimalistic and organic are the orders of the day when it comes to the Stuck In The Mud. Grounded in piano with soft percussion and delicate guitar framing stripped-back vocals, the track examines the feelings of being alone and feeling like “you’re supposed to have it figured all out and then realising you kinda don’t”. The penultimate track, Liquid,was the first taste of ‘GLUE’, and since its release in June 2019, it’s been stuck in many fans hearts and heads since then. Featuring John Floreani from Aussie faves, Trophy Eyes on guest vocals is a stroke of genius here as Floreani’s vocals carry Boston Manor’s proclivity for big choruses in amongst more pensive verses. The result is a gritty and addictive track that rises and falls in all the right places.
The final track on ‘GLUE’ is Monolith. This song hits hard as the abrasive screams and pent up frustration that have been building through the album reach feverpitch with the catchy chant of “Hey you, fuck you too / I’ll do what I want when I want to”. The bold and brazen attitude of the song morphs into a soft and reflective moment, accompanied by a dainty piano melody which rounds out the track, creating a haunting yet stunning close to the record.
Musically, the raucous rhythms and pounding of drums paired with the heavily distorted, crunching guitars conjure feelings of anger, angst and agitation throughout the record, which reflect the brooding and often raw themes that linger across ‘GLUE’. However, there are shining lights of more tender moments scattered through the 13 tracks and this is where Boston Manor truly soar. Through channelling their frustration into their craft, Boston Manor have not only made ‘GLUE’ one of their strongest album to date, but they’ve lent their voice to the plight of disaffected youth of modern Britain (and indeed the world) at a time when a voice of reason is so badly needed.
With thanks to Dallas Does PR