Boston Manor – ‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood’ (Album Review)
Music has always had the ability to transport listeners into parallel realities. Within such dimensions we can escape from worldly concerns, explore fictional realms, and relax as the musicians behind it all weave stories through chords, beats, melodies, riffs, and lyrics. For Boston Manor, however, escapism, prog-style fantasies, and tranquil chill sessions are definitely off the menu.
Before we continue, I’ll make something clear: Welcome To The Neighbourhood is a work of genius. Anyone with their eye already on Boston Manor will know that this album is set in a fictional version of Blackpool, and its lyrics reflect the experiences of a cast of murky, hard-living characters, ranging from heroin addicts to psychopathic bullies, medicated smartphone dependents, and victims caught in the toxic fog of learned helplessness. Vocalist Henry Cox’s words and vocal melodies alone perfectly capture so many subtle psychological nuances within virtuosically poetic phrases that the “genius” tag affixed earlier quickly becomes the only reasonable conclusion to draw from it all.
Then there’s the music behind the vocal. Boston Manor have mined almost everything you could label “alternative” in the ‘90s and more recent years, from industrial gurus Nine Inch Nails to alt-metal masterminds Deftones (note the Chino Moreno-aping moans during Digital Ghost) and more obscure freaks like the cheerfully-named Failure. Brief Nirvana-style effected bends pop up in England’s Dreaming, and Boston Manor even manage some firm nods in the direction of Reuben and their now-solo frontman, Jamie Lenman, during parts of Funeral Party. Cutting-edge alternative heroes Nothing But Thieves also get dropped into the Boston Manor melting pot; check out Welcome To The Neighbourhood’s opening title track and second single Bad Machine to hear that influence coming through.
There’s so much going on here (and I also have to mention the Led Zeppelin and Absolution-era Muse sections from closing track The Day That I Ruined Your Life) that it begs the question: Why can’t more bands approach their work with this kind of experimental openness? It’s not as if Welcome To The Neighbourhood is some kind of deep-in-the-weeds odyssey guaranteed to only appeal to a tiny microniche; it’s impressively accessible, even as it challenges, provokes, and questions.
This is the kind of album that comes around only a handful of times a year. Welcome To The Neighbourhood is absolutely one of the best albums of 2018, and if it doesn’t cause Boston Manor to blow up, consider it a sign that there is no justice in the world, there is no God, and you may as well just give up and move to Blackpool.
LTK RATING: 10/10 (Essential Listening!)
Pre-order Welcome To The Neighbourhood (out September 7) on iTunes.
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