Boston Manor – ‘GLUE’

By Yasmin Brown

Boston Manor have proven once before that they struggle to sit within their comfort zone, and you’ll be delighted to hear that as they embark on their third album cycle with ‘GLUE’, this refusal to conform to expectations remains strong.

Boston Manor are not here to make you feel comfortable.

Instead, this band is here to push boundaries and do what feels right for them at this particular moment in time, and as you make your way through these 13 tracks, you’ll find it’s a beautifully crafted departure from what we’ve heard with the band’s previous releases ‘Be Nothing’ and ‘Welcome to the Neighbourhood’. 

So whatever you might be expecting with this latest release, throw it well out of your mind and prepare for something entirely different (read: weird) but equally, if not more, brilliant.

If you’ve been keeping up, you’ll already have heard a few tracks from the record, starting with the anarchic ‘Everything Is Ordinary’. This was our first taste of what to come, and upon first listen, you’ll understand how it garnered mixed responses from existing fans who had been anxious to hear what Boston Manor had for us next. The autotune used to distort the voice of front man Henry Cox here, while heavily criticised following release, is a clear stylistic choice rather than being a tool to cover up pitchy vocals – Cox has one of the strongest and most distinguishable voices in the scene right now – and these effects only make it more interesting as it feeds into the chaotic mayhem that defines this track.

While ‘Everything Is Ordinary’ was a very clear sign that this album was to be nothing like its predecessors, it’s a far cry from encompassing the sound of the entire album. The synth-driven carnage that exists here sits jaggedly among of some of the heaviest stuff Boston Manor have ever released (check out ‘Only1’, for example), as well as some of the softest, most raw tracks you’ll find in the band’s discography (see ‘Stuck in the Mud’, ‘Terrible Love’ and ‘On a High Ledge’ – bring tissues). 

While every track sonically differs from the last, there is a running theme throughout ‘GLUE’ just as there was in ‘Welcome to the Neighbourhood’, and if Boston Manor know how to do anything, it’s embed a powerful story within outrageously good music. This time each chapter is gloomy, angry and fierce, and on occasion it’s dripping with sad resignation, piecing together a complete picture of how Boston Manor – and indeed much of our generation – perceive today’s world, and acting as an invitation to see it through their eyes. But where ‘Welcome to the Neighbourhood’ took us on a fairly consistently personal journey, ‘GLUE’ addresses more widely spread issues from an individual’s point of view.

The tracks that do feel more personal, however, include ‘On a High Ledge’ and ‘Stuck in the Mud’ – two tracks that unapologetically and sharply address societal pressures and expectations that are placed on men – and ‘Terrible Love’, a deep and painfully honest introspective analysis of Cox himself. It’s these songs that really highlight that underneath all of the anger that comes through in tracks such as ‘Monolith’, ‘Everything is Ordinary’, ‘1s and 0s’ and ‘You, Me & the Class War’, is a man that society has fought to quash into their own mould but who both feels and accepts his emotions, and isn’t afraid to shine light on his pain for the benefit of others.

The more aggressive tracks are, without exception, a comment on the state of the wider world. Their jarring riffs, shrieking vocals and overall punk rock sound take us back to a time where societal anarchy felt more than justified, and jolts us out of our bubble and into the reality that we may well be living in those times once again. Cox has noted that it was his intention to let his anger ignite rage in others who take the time to listen, and to encourage action that might make a difference. As you take in the many messages that live within this record – those of suicide and extreme class divide being just two examples – and as you consider the reality of those messages, this frustration and fury will build until you want do just that. You want to make a change and you want to do it now.

While their fans are important, integrity and authenticity is clearly a priority for this band, and as you’re thrown around in 13 different directions throughout this record, it’s clear they didn’t consider what people might want to hear from them. Instead, what Boston Manor have created here is something real, and as with ‘Welcome to the Neighbourhood’, ‘GLUE’ has a real chance of making a difference because they took this stance.

This is one hell of an important record.

You may never know what you’re going to get from Boston Manor – and frankly this should be applauded – but you do know without a doubt that whatever it is, it’s going to be exceptional. This record will give you whiplash, and as you gently massage your neck and attempt to wrap your head around the frenzied intricacies of its parts, you should take the time to appreciate the poignancy of every word and how perfectly they’re reflected in the musical platform that supports them.

With three distinctly phenomenal albums now under their belt, it’s clear that Boston Manor are here to stay. And man, are we excited.

YASMIN BROWN

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