The second album may prove a difficult crossroads for most bands, but for others, it’s a chance to flex their muscles and make the music they’ve been really want to make.
For Blackpool’s Boston Manor, their sophomore LP ‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood’ tarnishes any idea of the five-piece being just another pop-punk group with a release that’s up there with some of the best records of 2018.
Pre-released singles ‘Halo’ and ‘Bad Machine’ gave an insight into their dark new tones and broader sound whilst retaining their trademark hook-writing ability. Yet, it’s elsewhere on the record where its true qualities lie.
First off, frontman Henry Cox is as excellent as he his frantic and frustrated, cutting a disillusioned figure that serves almost as a narrator, depicting a fictional, dead-ended representation of the band’s hometown of Blackpool. The album points fingers at the poverty, subsequent drug culture, and everyday life within this nightmarish imagination of the town, honing in on the more real life problems simultaneously.
Vocally, Cox shows a brutal rawness and duplicity we’ve never seen from him before. His voice is often doubled tracked with falsetto and deep, moody vocals providing a dynamic, beefed up mix. There’s more aggression than before, more screams, and all round just pushing his voice to the absolute capacity as shown on the thundering ‘Funeral Party’, where he practically bursts his own lungs.
Across the entirety of the record, the instrumentation is nothing short of sublime. The bass from Dan Cunniff is popping with thick, cutting jabs like on ‘Flowers In Your Dustbin’ and ‘Tunnel Vision’. The drums from Jordan Pugh are pounding and slick, and the guitars… oh my, the guitars. The diverse range of sounds that guitarists Mike Cunniff and Ash Wilson cover on ‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood’ are sickly, psychotic, and almost Korn-like at times, particularly on the aforementioned ‘Flowers In Your Dustbin’ as well as ‘England’s Dreaming’, and the arrogant ‘If I Can’t Have It No One Can’. These tracks are this album’s instrumental peak, and they drive the dissonant, distorted tone home empathically.
‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood’ is in no lesser terms a masterpiece. There are very few records – particularly sophomore records – that are executed so meticulously and as captivatingly as this, and, for that, Boston Manor deserve mountains of praise and awards for this effort. The world is at their feet now.