ALBUM REVIEW: blackpool's finest, boston manor, release new album, "GLUE"
If there is only one thing that can be said about this album it’s that Boston Manor giving their all paid off. No song, lyric, or beat have been added carelessly, thrown in for the sake of finishing an album. It’s hard to say that it’s the best album from any genre, because GLUE spans pretty much every alternative genre under the sun and somehow, they’ve made that work. It’s a cohesive album that keeps you on your toes, threatening to start a pit or have you in tears from one song to the next. They start with the behemoth that is ‘Everything is Ordinary’ and take you through a journey of fragility, chaos, and endurance that ends with the metalcore, yet soft, pinnacle that is ‘Monolith.’
When their previous album, Welcome to the Neighbourhood, was released I remember thinking to myself that they would never get any better than this. GLUE proves me wrong and I am so glad. For me, the collaboration between Boston Manor and John Floreani bridges the gap between the sounds of both albums and even though it is the second to last song, it’s a nice nod to the album that really gave them the space to release GLUE to the world. It’s the single that’s been released for the longest, having been a collab pretty much everyone in the scene has wanted since the start.
‘Everything is Ordinary’ is a song that could break your neck, and to have that as the opening track showed that they’re not playing around. It’s a blend of hardcore and electronic, which sounds like it shouldn’t work. It blew everything you thought GLUE was going to be to pieces, without giving you time to come up with new expectations by throwing you straight into the next song.
‘1’s & 0’s’ oozes with grunge and has a manic energy, in a way that makes you want to be thrown about in a pit. Mine, at the moment, take place when I’m alone, in my kitchen, when my family have gone on their sanctioned one hour walk each day. It brings the unexpected electronic and synth sounds from the previous song and normalises them for the rest of the album. Not one person can be mad at their use of these after listening to ‘1’s & 0’s.’
‘Plasticine Dreams’ gets stuck in my head so often that I repeatedly find myself swaying and bobbing when there’s no noise. It’s always nice to hear ‘Hey you, you’re a star’ every now and again, even if it’s in my own head. The sound is soulful with a hint of menace that’s waiting to take over. It’s an interesting mix that’s resulted in a solid song exploring, as vocalist Henry Cox explains, “the throwaway culture of media.”
‘Terrible Love’ is loathing and longing encapsulated in four minutes. As cliché as this sounds, it isn’t your usual love song. It introduces you fully to a thread that follows the album throughout: fighting addiction. Whether that be to a person, a drug, alcohol, anything. It’s relatable and heart wrenching in sound and lyricism.
‘Only1’ and ‘You, Me & the Class War’ give me those unclean vocals that I have the biggest weakness for. They’re vocals that could fill venues the size of a broom cupboard or stadium. I can’t get enough. The quick switching between clean and unclean in both songs forces you to pay attention and solely exist within the music for a few minutes.
‘Playing God’ is a ballad; anthemic and rich, promising to be the soundtrack to your wildest dreams. It also has some unclean vocals in the background that give it that extra empowering vibe. The music swirls and envelops, pushing the vocals forward, rising and falling at the perfect times. It’s signature Boston Manor.
'Brand New Kids’ is made for live performances. Lyrically, I think this has to be my favourite, too. The grunge-y, yet bouncy music allows you to not take full notice of the lyrics and just enjoy the ride. However, paying attention to the lyrics adds another layer to the song, as they explore the theme of addiction further. It’s just a stand-out for me, especially the lines “Flesh and sinew, You’re poetry and soil, Leave nothing on the bone.”
‘Ratking’ features lyrics that make me wish I had this song when I was a young, emo teenager trying to find my way in the world. I can picture myself with my dyed-green hair, thick winged eyeliner, having this song on repeat to try and pick out the lyrics I’d get tattooed as soon as I turned eighteen. But I’d have to settle on posting them as a status somewhere to show that I had the superior music taste. Contenders include: “If you want to change the world, you’re doing it wrong.” “Don’t call me a freak, I’m just not feeling this.” And “I just don’t fit in.” Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad thing in the slightest. They’re the perfect lyrics for making Tumblr edits and to give comfort in this time rife with unrest. I’m beyond glad I have the song now.
‘Stuck in the Mud’ feels like a second part to ‘On a High Ledge,’ (which I’m saving for last.) It’s slow, a song you wade through, and you take the time to really soak in every aspect of the song. The way the metaphors and intangible feelings have been perfectly translated into music is stunning, like nothing I’ve ever seen done before. Personally, I think the best part of the song comes in the last thirty seconds when it’s just the piano and vocals. It’s haunting and marries the eerie aspects featured in ‘On a High Ledge.’
There aren’t enough words to describe how much I love ‘Liquid.’ I would say this is song that’s the gateway to becoming a Boston Manor fan, it’s not too heavy but still has the right amount of grunge to get you going. Plus, it gives a taste of Trophy Eyes from the John Floreani appearance. There is nothing not to love about this song.
Ending with ‘Monolith’ feels like a massive move, but what else could be expected when Boston Manor open this album with ‘Everything is Ordinary.’ I’m not sure what I should have expected from opening and closing songs, but these weren’t it and I love that. Again, ‘Monolith’ is a song made for live performances and has those unclean vocals that push the song to its best. The carnage that will take place when this song hits will be unlike anything seen before. I just hope they keep the last two minutes in for everyone to take a breather and calm down. It shows the duality of Boston Manor and how they’ll never conform to one genre but cements the fact that it’s what’s best for them.
I’ve saved this song for last because emotionally, it hit me the hardest. ‘On a High Ledge’ is one of the most important songs released in a while. It’s hard not to display your demons to the whole world in a song like this, lyrically and musically, and that must have been painful. The music itself is eerie and builds, stark against the lyrics that repeat themselves over and over, emulating what it must be like to be in a situation where you’re in the darkest depths of declining mental health. However, the amount of good I believe a song like this will do for casual listeners and fans alike is massive. It tackles big subjects with care, opening up the conversation that needs to be had around toxic masculinity and the way men are expected to deal with suicidal thoughts. I urge you all to read what Henry Cox had to say about the song and watch the accompanying music video. I further urge any of you feeling vulnerable, even more so during times like these, to reach out for help if you feel yourself slipping.
In short, GLUE doesn’t shy away from anything and that is what makes it their best release so far.