Lucy Clark reviews the new track and announces the new album
Less than a year after the immense, Mercury nominated ‘For The First Time’, Black Country, New Road have been teasing their next work of art. Deleting all images from Instagram last week, fans knew something was coming, but an album seemed slightly too hopeful. Nevertheless, the seven piece announced ‘Ants From Up There’ releasing 4th February 2022. On the same day, a taster of the album dropped in the single ‘Chaos Space Marine’, alongside the announcement of a UK tour. It's safe to say fans had a lot to be excited for.
Speaking to NME, bassist Tyler Hyde exclaims “It was such a pleasure to make. I’ve kind of accepted that this might be the best thing that I’m ever part of for the rest of my life. And that’s fine.”
Looking at 'Chaos Space Marine' for an insight into the route of the new album, the song instantly offers a difference from the dark and grungy starts that characterised their debut. Instead, we are met with a cheerful violin performance, which could be something of an orchestral piece. However, the drums, which cut in and out, turn this classical tune into a punchy and dramatic rock opening. BCNR are known for having a multitude of instruments in their songs but never before have they been shown off so obviously. With bursts of piano, saxophone, guitar and strings weaving in and out before the vocals have entered, the soundscape is one of chaos, yet captivating playfulness.
These vocals from Isaac Wood are possibly more accessible than in previous songs, singing in an almost theatrical manner. The opening lyrics ‘And though England is mine, I must leave it all behind, the war is over’ sound as if they have been taken from a 19th century dramatic monologue. This encapsulates what it is that makes BCNR so unique and completely genius. Wood seems to be trying to communicate a narrative through the lyrics, relaying a story to listeners in stark contrast to the witty and seemingly random spoken words of For the first time. The song suggests a journey for the band, they ‘set an open course’ for bigger and bolder expeditions. Yet, at the end of the song, they proclaim ‘I’m coming home, Billie Eilish style’. Perhaps the big world isn't for them. This reference demonstrates further that there is no place like the comfort of your own home, as Eilish was known to live with her parents even after reaching the heights of fame. This confusion in the lyrics possibly reflects the sentiment of the band as they grow and are offered tours throughout Europe and the USA. One thing is for sure, Wood’s vocal delivery maintains the same emotion and pain that made the first album so powerful.
The ending of the 'Chaos Space Marine' reaches an uplifting climax, enhanced with the sudden change of a slower guitar riff and introduction of female backing vocals. This lifts the song to an angelic culmination of sound as Wood also reaches the peak of his vocal performance.
BCNR seem to somehow be breaking the barriers of their genreless sound even further. This unique and cleverly crafted single suggests that the next album is not going to let down their talent, but be everything an anticipated return should be.
Words by Lucy Clark