Blackpool-natives Boston Manor paint an Orwellian picture with strokes of anger, desperation, and vengeful indignation in their third album, GLUE. Produced by Mike Sapone, whose credits include The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me by Brand New, GLUE is a sonic departure from the band’s pop-punk roots as they delve into what vocalist, Henry Cox, described as “21st Century Fury”.
The disorientating opener, Everything is Ordinary, is a chaotic and polarising entry point to say the least. Tackling what they describe as, “our desensitisation, our distraction and our acceptance of things we shouldn’t accept,” Boston Manor’s anger is frenzied and brash. However, with mixing that feels compressed and claustrophobic, the message of the song gets lost behind a cacophony of screeching synths and distorted vocals that overwhelms the listener, as it doesn’t quite land the sucker-punch they were hoping for.
Things improve on the next track, 1’s and 0’s, with its gritty, punk-driven sound that delves into the current generational divide in post-Brexit Britain and the wider political landscape. Plasticine Dreams’s pleasant, pixie-like guitar riffs and delicate tones create a soft highlight rarely seen in Boston Manor’s discography. The line, “I thought I had a point to make, but I don’t remember,” echoes melodically throughout the song as they tackle the falsities of the entertainment industry.
Boston Manor’s anger is frenzied and brash
Amongst GLUE’s unbridled rage at the state of the world, moments of contemplation arrive in the shape of tracks Terrible Love and Stuck in the Mud as Cox reflects on his own worst enemy: himself. Terrible Love toils and tussles with emotional dependency and underlines the vulnerability of humanity amongst this cut-throat world they have sewn, whilst Stuck in the Mud cries out for the innocence of childhood with lines: “I missed my mother on the train today, I wish that I could call her and make it go away.”
The melancholy On a High Ledge is a strikingly poignant moment on the album, with the band tackling concepts of toxic masculinity and the British ‘man up, man’ culture. Boston Manor don’t claim to have all the answers here, but by bringing exposure to these topics they help destigmatise these issues – especially for the younger generation.
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Sandwiched between the two delightfully catchy songs, Only1 and Brand New Kids, the track You, Me & The Class War is unapologetic in its notions of generational divide. “What would you do to me if I opened my mouth?” proclaims Cox, a question seemingly aimed at those in positions of power in this country. Whilst pointing the finger is admirable, I feel the lyricism is lacking here in a track that could have been a stand-out track on the album.
Liquid is a visceral, yet vulnerable track tackling ideas of conformity and identity
In contrast, the grimy Ratking is an excellent portrayal of modern society’ vicious rat-race culture. The image of tangled tails, muddied streets and glue-traps are projected over a soaring 90’s alt-rock inspired chorus that wouldn’t be out of place on a Foo Fighters album. Rising levels of isolation in this increasingly interconnected world seems to eat at Boston Manor, as we’re collectively taught to “save ourselves rather than working together”.
The penultimate track Liquid, featuring John Floreani of Trophy Eyes, is a stand-out moment on the album with a chorus that cries out to be played at arenas. With thunderous synthesisers and glorious drumming by Jordan Pugh, the track is visceral and yet vulnerable as they tackle ideas of conformity and identity. “I’m melting down into your mould, I’m doing what I’m told ‘cos I’m liquid” seems to boil down the constraints of modern society and the submission of oneself to larger societal systems.
Monolith is a consciously unapologetic ending to the album, as Boston Manor crashes out of GLUE with defiance and wrath. In an album that is so brazen with frustration, chaos, and melancholy the choice of a piano outro seems delicate and deliberate.
Despite some tracks falling short, it is the peaks and troughs of GLUE which make it one of the best rock albums to release this year from one of the most exciting young bands Britain has produced in a long time. Here, Boston Manor refuses to be boxed in and offers moments of hope for the next generation to make real societal change in a world that seems more divided, isolated, and perilous than ever.
GLUE by Boston Manor is released on Pure Noise Records. Consider buying the album from one of Greater Manchester’s independent record shops.
Cameron Bryan-Smith is an Architecture student interested in travelling and rock music. Follow him on Instagram @cam176_