Album Review // BOSTON MANOR ‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood’
A thought-provoking and brutally honest wake-up call for the apathetic masses that will send shivers down your spine.
This is not an easy listen, but damn it’s so important.
Disguised in metaphors and enigmatic references to their hometown, Welcome To The Neighbourhood is a progressive and genre-bending journey into the depths of Boston Manor‘s mind and their vision on the current state of the world. This is not a band who is afraid to take chances and push their boundaries to face up the challenges that lie in front of them, and their generation. Demonstrating true growth and sonic diversity, they rise to new heights without ever forgetting where they come from. Because this album is not really about reinventing or redefining yourself, it’s more about discovering that new side of yours that was always there.
The opening, titular track sets the mood instantly. Here we are in a fictionalised version of the band’s hometown of Blackpool where disenfranchisement, poverty and drug addiction have become dominant factors. With sulky undertones underpinning the melody, it is an open invitation to a darker world, an invitation we’re not quite ready to accept yet. But as haunting keys and broody vocals lure us in, intrigued, we can’t help but to step inside.
Heating up the atmosphere, Flowers In Your Dustbin throw us straight into the sea of electrifying guitars and pulsating drums. With Henry Cox’s broad vocals going from melodic to angry tones in an instant, the track is sure to leave a long lasting impression. And there’s a lot of songs on this compilation doing exactly that, songs that will stick with you for a while.
With an over-riding sense of bleakness and apathy accompanying us throughout the record, Boston Manor set out on a path of musical exploration minimising their punk influences in favour of pounding synths and dark electronics. On Bad Machine, they harmonise expressive lyricism with an intriguing dynamic structure of the song, allowing it to grow into an expansive soundscape. They execute their sonic maneuvers with an exceptional precision, giving us a dark and hauntingly beautiful tale about one’s inner turmoil.
Tackling the theme of isolation in England’s Dreaming, the vivid metaphors and massive beats keep thrumming in our ears as we chant the words “Bury Me”. Then, we’re introduced to Funeral Party that serves us yet another outburst of anger, wrapped up in piercing guitars and impassioned vocals, whilst Tunnel Vision offers vocal solutions that thrill and grasp.
Elsewhere on the record, Hate You rolls on fast-paced rhythmics sending us well, quite a straightforward and provocative message, as the title suggests. And then there’s Halo which opens the doors to a much wider sonic space as ominous electronics underline the feeling of being trapped and not knowing if there’ll ever be a way out. With melodic sensibility and an impactful chorus, it’s one of the most outstanding tracks on the album.
Welcome To The Neighbourhood is an album that remains cohesive despite the chaos and disruption it presents. There’s a lot of exasperation, rage and fears that inhabit the stories on this record, true, but they also complement each other in an absorbing manner.
And as the band round off with a more subtle piece, The Day I Ruined Your Life, a hurtful song in every way, you can’t help but somehow feel positive that even in the darkest of places you can find a flicker of hope. Sometimes it’s burning bright, sometimes you have to look closer, and sometimes you have to spark it yourself. Either way, it’s up to you what happens next. As for Boston Manor, well I’m sure they will challenge and surprise us again, big time.