Section: Arts

Black Country, New Road releases successful new album

Amidst a COVID-19 spike, the arts scene on campus has been much less accessible to students. This is the perfect time for discovering new music, and 2022 has brought some brilliant new albums. Among them is a new Feb. 4 release from London-based band Black Country, New Road (BC, NR), with the album Ants From Up There

Formed in 2018, BC, NR is still relatively underground particularly in the United States, with fewer than one million monthly listeners on Spotify. The group can be classified as a mixed-genre band, primarily indie rock but with chamber-pop and subtle jazz influences. Ants From Up There is the band’s second studio album, following For The First Time and a few singles. 

For such a new band, however, BC, NR’s Ants From Up There has been met with nothing but acclaim; many critics are calling it the best album of 2022 so far. Each song is full of emotion, and most move quite slowly while featuring string and saxophone solos. Six of 10 of their songs are over five minutes long, and the last song on the album, “Basketball Shoes,” is a 12-minute-long melancholic track that slowly builds in intensity, both instrumentally and lyrically. 

BC, NR’s most popular song on Spotify is called “Concorde,” which is slightly more upbeat with a happier melody than some of the others on the album. It is followed in popularity by “Good Will Hunting,” the album’s fifth track. This song is praised in part for the stunning instrumentals, but also for its seemingly desperate vocals which grow more and more unstable as the song progresses. 

Throughout the album, there is a recurring theme of airplanes, which the album cover — a toy plane in a plastic bag — references. The album’s song “Concorde” is a call to the Concorde jet, the subject of a national tragedy, in which over a hundred people were killed in a crash and the jet was taken out of service. “Basketball Shoes” returns to this idea again at the end of the album with the lines “Concorde flies in my room / Tears the house to shreds.” The title of the album ties into this story as well, which describes how people look from out the window of a plane; small enough to look like ants. 

 Isaac Wood, BC, NR’s lead vocalist on the album, left the band after the album’s release, which has fans wondering what direction their music will take in the future. Wood’s deep, melodic singing was a key part of their sound, and gave the album a distinct feel. 

Ants From Up There has gained the band a lot of attention from music critics, so whatever comes next from the group of (now) six should be exciting. They have already confirmed that they are carrying on as Black Country, New Road in spite of losing Wood, and have new music on the way. 

Ants From Up There can be found on any major music streaming platform.


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