Album Review: Boston Manor—”Welcome to the Neighbourhood”
Posted: by The Editor
I was eager to finally hear Welcome to the Neighbourhood, the sophomore LP from Blackpool-based rockers Boston Manor. On their previous release, Be Nothing, the band relied on a lot of contrite, pop-punk mannerisms that bruised the otherwise impressive songwriting of the group, especially the work of vocalist Henry Cox. I think Cox’s voice brings the intensity that often comes with pop-punk, but gives it a very powerful new accent (no pun intended). Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to new material, and I was not disappointed.
My initial listen lead me to believe that the album would be much poppier, and possibly more electronic, than I had originally expected. The opener (and titular) track, “Welcome to the Neighbourhood”, feels a bit out of place from the rest of the record–the music doesn’t exactly fit with the rest of the album thematically. However, the second track “Flowers in Your Dustbin” surges with a thumping bass riff that sets up the musical foundation for the rest of the album.
The remaining tracks exhibit this wonderful alt-rock style that’s reminiscent of Tom Delonge’s band Angels and Airwaves; specifically the album Delonge produced with Ilan Rubin (of The New Regime and Nine Inch Nails) The Dream Walker. “Funeral Party” has the same dramatic ambiance and heavy guitar riffs that made me instantly fall in love with The Dream Walker. My favorite song would have to be “England’s Dreaming” as it really utilizes the idea of full-bodied hooks and versatile vocal style to give a dynamic performance.
With all of this expansion in the band’s style, I was a little discouraged to see them follow the recent trend of ending LP’s with a soft, acoustic track, as they did with “The Day I Ruined Your Life”. It fails to compliment the epic nature and scope of the record, and falls flat as a closer. That’s not to say I didn’t like the song, but I think the album would have benefitted from some kind of swelling, rising action for the finale.
With grittier guitar progressions than the band has previously employed–and with big, theatrical choruses reminiscent of 30 Seconds to Mars and Still Searching-era Senses Fail–Boston Manor have crafted a beautiful, cohesive record that encompasses all of my favorite styles and techniques from the late 90’s-Early 2000’s. The group has stepped out of the comfort of their past pop-punk style to a more alternative-rock, grunge sound that has been sorely missing from mainstream (and DIY) rock circles since the fourth wave of the emo revival. It’s refreshing to see a band evolve from a niche genre and go somewhere different than the twinkly-lead, picked out styles of emo that have been saturating the community lately. I look forward to more bands being influenced by this style and cranking out real, rockin’ riffs and huge hooks like those that Boston Manor has created on this album.
Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal
Welcome to the Neighbourhood is out 9/7 via Pure Noise Records. Pre-order the album here.
Luciano Ferrara // @LucianoRFerrara
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