PSA: There are pop-punk bands worth listening to!
If you’ve seen the downright stacked Good Things Festival lineup, there’s a chance you’ve seen the name Boston Manor pop up lately. If so, it’s great news that the U.K. band’s latest album, 'Welcome To The Neighbourhood', is about to get released, and even better news is that it’s actually really good! Focused on a fictionalized version of the outfit's hometown of Blackpool, Lancashire, England, the record dabbles in post-hardcore and more traditional pop-punk in a way that frankly crushes recent releases by scene contemporaries such as Moose Blood and Neck Deep. Y'know... not to compare or anything.
The best thing about this new album is that it feels authentic. There’s this constant inspiring theme of rising above suburban entrapment to pursue something more fulfilling in one's life, whilst also documenting what the band went through to get to the point where they’re now releasing a label-backed full-length record. Emotions run pretty damn high on self-reflective tracks like 'Bad Machine', where quieter beginnings transition into crashing instrumentals to tell a story of seeking freedom. That theme of determination also pervades into how singer Henry Cox adds real nuance to the meaning of oppression during seventh track, 'Tunnel Vision', as he sings about how other people’s negativity can frustratingly affect your own thoughts. But he and Boston Manor are having none of it!
[caption id="attachment_1103718" align="aligncenter" width="760"] Boston Manor, 2018. If your band doesn't do promo shots in front of a car, are you really even a band? [/caption]
It’s exciting that on a post-hardcore/pop-punk/rock record like this, Boston Manor injects a level of flair, not unlike what scene heavyweights You Me At Six have been going for on recent single 'I O U'. On 'England’s Dreaming', the band get a bit more crafty and add a little more attitude intot the fray than on straight-up post-hardcore tunes like 'Flowers In Your Dustbin'. What flows out from such moments is a very recognizable swagger in Cox's vocals. Given that the album is about escaping an eerily overrun town to achieve something better, it makes sense that there’s a level of strength and arrogance in Cox’s vocal performances; an act required to achieve that goal. And don't even get me started on how 'If I Can’t Have It No One Can' contributes to this, profanities and all. It's a special journey to go on when everything about a record feels so intentional; where instrumentals and lyrics work together in-tandem to truly progress the story being told.
Perhaps even more special is the album closer, 'The Day That I Ruined Your Life'. If you remember nothing else from your listening experience here, you will not forget this cut. Rather than being weepy or self-centered piece list most sad acoustic songs that close out albums often are, Boston Manor goes full-Halsey and write an apology song, not unlike her forever-popular ballad 'Sorry'. Cox uses the track's undertow to proclaim his own guilt for wronging someone he wishes that he had never met. It’s an eerie yet victorious song that rounds off an eerie yet victorious album perfectly so.
I genuinely hope that 'Welcome To The Neighbourhood' gets the praise that it deserves with an underlying expectation that if it does, it will inspire even better releases from the overall pop-punk scene. If possible, we could get rid of some of that whining-about-girls clutter and replace it with songs about real problems and generational afflictions entrenched in the culture of a real town, not unlike sprawling suburbs found across the modern world. And we would all be better for it, I feel. In that sense, major props to Boston Manor for pulling off an uncompromised and honest effort that would make their hometown damned proud.
1. Welcome to the Neighbourhood
2. Flowers in Your Dustbin
4. England's Dreaming
5. Funeral Party
6. Digital Ghost
7. Tunnel Vision
8. Bad Machine
9. If I Can’t Have It No One Can
10. Hate You
12. Stick Up
13. The Day That I Ruined Your Life
'Welcome To The Neighbourhood' moves in next door come September 7th via Pure Noise Records.