Whilst it may be a controversial topic and a frequent hotbed for discussion, it’s becoming increasingly common for maturing pop punk bands to shed their aesthetics of their original genre to pursue new sonic adventures. Of course, when meditated on, the reasons for such transitions are clear. Whilst the pop punk scene of our nation is a point of nourishment for acts, allowing groups to find their feet, a portion of bands loose interest in the juvenile and adolescent aesthetics associated with the genre with the passage of time. Of course, whilst most bands retain the indemnity forged from their youthful endeavors and loose such elements over a string of releases, Blackpool’s Boston Manor have intentionally shed all aspects of their once juvenile pop punk sound with their sophomore release Welcome To The Neighbourhood. Whilst this news may be an inducer for tears for some of their devoted, Welcome To The Neighbourhood is undoubtedly their most tight, focused and original effort to date.
However, to state that Boston Manor have abandoned the sound established with their string of EP’s and 2016’s Be Nothing would be hyperbole. The true allegory to describe how this shift feels would be state how Be Nothing was the concrete foundation in which they would build their way up to the sound originally intended, the first step of a masterplan laid out at the very inception of Boston Manor. Of course, this probably isn’t the case, with this album probably just the natural development of a highly skilled act, but the fashion in which Boston Manor undertake a cinematic alt-rock sound is incredible and masterful.
Truly, there’s a notable forlorn air of bleak animosity within this record, one that is completely purposeful. As opposed to the often personal and adolescent subjects explored within their previous work, the world of Welcome To The Neighbourhood is a very dark and nihilistic one indeed. Inspired by the poverty and drug ravaged territories of their home town, this a brilliant reverb, distortion and synth laden stab at the current social climate in which young people reside in. There’s subtle elements of noise rock, industrial and scathing soundscapes within this record, but at the same time it’s still undisputedly Boston Manor.
The self-titled opener sets the precedent of the record perfectly. Ominous, modernist and amidst a noir-esque ambiance, this slow burning and sinister distortion led track is certainly a far cry from the instant adrenaline of Be Nothing’s respective opener ‘Burn You Up’. It’s promising and illusive at once, showing how Boston Manor chose not to dip a single toe into alternative sonic realms, but rather jump straight in. From here we’re greeted by the borderline industrial shrieks, distortion, pop hooks and breakdowns of ‘Flowers In Your Dustbin’ alongside recent singles ‘Halo’ and ‘England’s Dreaming’. The majority of the album follows in a fashion most adventurously experimental, injecting their matured demeanor into a hook laden sound that pushes the boundaries of alt-rock, never settling on a stagnant sound that can be easily be pigeonholed.
Their main anchor point to their characteristics established within their past efforts can be pinpointed to the vocal work of frontman Henry Cox, who’s vocals remain easily distinguishable yet incredibly forceful when compared the group’s initial work. Grounded, yet rearing to gripping unrefined shouts on a notice’s moment, it’s an evident step up from the already incredible vocal work presented on Be Nothing, with the unsettling post-hardcore influences on ‘If I Can’t Have It No One Can’ displaying just how well trained his vocal range is. It’s a surprising and engaging show of force, with Cox animating the tales and narratives retold within the 12 tracks present within this release.
In all, Welcome To The Neighbourhood is undoubtedly set to raise a swathe of eyebrows, and not just the ones belonging to their existing fanbase. Looming, experimental yet still carrying the characteristics of the band, this is a record that is set to bring Boston Manor into the eyes of the global alternative scene. A promising next step of a career that’s set to be most illustrious.
Welcome To The Neighbourhood is released Friday the 7th via Pure Noise Records