April 27, 2020 Boston Manor – GLUE (Album Review)
Change has to begin somewhere and it needs to happen now! Inspired by the violent noise of our brave new world, British Rock outfit Boston Manor find themselves discussing identity, desensitization, toxic masculinity and more, on their latest, GLUE. Pure Noise Records delivers the genre-bending collection on Friday, May 1st, 2020.
Formed in 2013 in Blackpool, UK, Boston Manor has found themselves billed as everything from Emo Pop to Pop-Punk over the past seven years. Making their full-length debut in 2016 with Be Nothing., they would go on to tour alongside the likes of Good Charlotte, A Day To Remember, Hit The Lights, Can’t Swim, and more, as they cemented a name for themselves. With the release of 2018’s Welcome to the Neighbourhood, they banished all thoughts of a sophomore curse, finding themselves with a list of nominations, including Best British Breakthrough at the Kerrang! Awards.
Here we are two years later and Boston Manor—Vocalist Henry Cox, Guitarists Mike Cunniff and Ash Wilson, Bassist Dan Cunniff, and Drummer Jordan Pugh—are looking toward the future while staying grounded in the present. Produced by Mike Sapone (Taking Back Sunday, Brand New) and engineered by Brett Romnes (The Movielife, Brand New), GLUE, the band’s third full-length, is a boldly uncompromising endeavor. Simply put, the 13-song collection defies genre, blending everything from ‘90s Alt Rock and Grunge with 2000’s Post-Hardcore, while sometimes sounding like an Indie Rock dream and at other moments spitting rage with true Punk spirit. Simply put: this is not a Pop-Punk record!
Cast aside your preconceived notions as synths create a sonic laser grid, opening GLUE with the infectious “Everything Is Ordinary.” Rapid-fire drums anchor this fast-paced wall of sound that confronts listeners with the fact that we need to be the change that we wish to see in this world, and our apathetic, desensitized attitudes, avoidance, and excuses for the prevalence of tragedy in our time is getting us nowhere. Next, they channel their ferocious Punk Rock attitudes, along with a gritty Blur influence, into the catchy cacophony of “1’s & O’s,” a raucous look at the generational divide throughout the post-Brexit UK.
A condemnation of the fraudulent nature of the entertainment industry, “Plasticine Dreams” goes sweet and alluring to drive home its point with twinkling guitars. This Rock-n-Roll facet of the band continues into the darker tones of “Terrible Love.” Here, shimmering guitars and thick atmospherics anchor Cox’s passionate self-reflection and the confession that he, like so many of us, is his own worst enemy. All of this as a rainfall of synth sets the stage for moody, Indie Rocker “On A High Ledge,” an exploration of toxic masculinity and what it means to be a man.
Amping it back up, they go for a bass-heavy groove on “Only1,” as they question if the world has gone completely mad. (Why yes, boys, it has!) Meanwhile, the passionately erratic and cacophonous qualities of “1’s & 0’s” explode back into “You, Me & The Class War,” which counters its frustration and rage with lulling, enticingly calm moments that remind us how quick we are to shoot one another down without listening.
Next, gritty guitars edge into the dirty work of “Playing God” before, arising from the muddy feels of its predecessor, “Brand New Kids” offers a sing-along. Then, the entwining mass of “Ratking” sees Cox struggling to fit into a society where everyone is working against one another. This paves the way into the piano that opens the ballad-esque “Stuck In The Mud,” self-reflection that struggles with time and returns to the earlier concept of toxic masculinity.
As they begin to approach the album’s conclusion, the quintet break out the superbly catchy rocker “Liquid,” featuring John Floreani of Trophy Eyes, a search for identity amid the understanding that all of us are fluid beings. Ultimately, they end with the five and a half minute “Monolith.” There’s a delicious ‘80s New Wave feel to the verses of the track, one that spells its listener before the band explodes into rage-filled choruses that express Boston Manor’s frustration with our world.
A culmination of the chaos that abounds in 2020, an outspoken collection that dares its listeners to get up and make a change, GLUE binds together a myriad of eclectic influences to cement the truly original Boston Manor sound. So, we repeat our earlier statement: this is not a Pop-Punk record! With notes of ‘90s Alt Rock and Grunge (Blur to Nirvana to Hum), the early 2000s Post-Hardcore scene, and even 1980’s New Wave, all mashed together with a Punk Rock spirit of defiance, GLUE creates a dramatically frustrated look at our present day. Visceral, blunt, and often bleak, Boston Manor holds nothing back on their latest. For this, Cryptic Rock gives GLUE 4.5 of 5 stars.