Words: Harry Fuller
English experimental post-punk outfit Black Country, New Road (named after a major road running through the East Midlands of the UK) exploded into public conscience with their critically acclaimed debut ‘For The First Time’, featuring insane instrumental passages, blasting production with one of a kind lyricism and delivery from lead singer Isaac Wood. The album was a huge success for the relatively unknown indie group at the time, and the album created waves in the underground scene throughout most of 2021, with most fans eagerly awaiting their follow-up album ‘Ants From Up There’, released literally an entire year later.
But this doesn’t stop ‘Ants From Up There from’ feeling slightly melancholic for the group, however, as this release would be the last with lead singer Isaac Wood. Wood, who left the group just days before the album’s release due to mental health issues, was instrumental to the groups success musically, and it would be a shame if this would be the beginning of the end to the group. Especially considering that ‘AFUT’ is the groups magnum opus up until this point. The overall level of maturity and growth from BC,NR over the span of a year is absolutely astonishing, with the group recording, songwriting, and overall performance on the record seemingly levelling up leaps and bounds from ‘For The First Time.’
What makes the album even more unique for the group is the melting pot of other genres & influences that the band use for each track on the album. Take both the intro to the album and ‘Chaos Space Marine’, which both use elements of jazz, new folk, and even uses a clever of odd time signatures, with both being in 5/8 & 7/4 respectively.
This level of ingenuity and innovation is explored throughout the entirety of the first half of the LP, with singles like ‘Concorde’ and ‘Bread Song’ exploring these folk/jazz ideas further, and deep cuts ‘Good Will Hunting’ featuring inventive lyricism throughout (“She had Billie Eilish eyes, moving to Berlin for a little while, Tryna find something to hold onto”). The instrumental Mark’s Theme is also a nice addition to the project, serving as a lovely solo saxophone piece, and a nice change of pace from the rest of the album.
However, the real meat and potatoes of the project is during the last 3 tracks; ‘The Place Where He Inserted The Blade’, ‘Snow Globes’, and ‘Basketball Shoes’, which in total makes around half of the albums overall runtime at roughly 29 minutes. ‘The Place Where He Inserted The Blade’ is an absolutely brutal track, with defeated lyrics & vocals from Isaac Wood, and a slow build-up of the instrumental that’s further exemplified by the production by producer Sergio Maschetzko. ‘Snow Globes’, which was the final single prior to the albums release, again features this slow build up of guitars at the beginning, setting up towards a gigantic ending to the track with an near-perfect performance by the bands drummer Charlie Wayne. The 12 minute closer to the album, ‘Snow Globes’, manages to be the perfect ending both ‘Ants From Up There’ and Black Country New Road’s careers up until this point, featuring multiple different light motifs and callbacks to previous songs on the album (The Intro’s main melody playing during the outro to the song). A fitting end to ‘Ants From Up There’, and while the future of the band is completely ambiguous as of writing, the group can feel proud to have written a masterpiece in nearly every front, and hands down their best piece of material to date.
Watch ‘Concorde’ here: