Ants From Up There
Yesterday saw the release of the new Black Country, New Road album, Ants From Up There, in the same week that the band announced that frontman Isaac Wood will be leaving the project due to mental health issues, and unfortunately cancelling their upcoming shows, one of which I had tickets to and was very excited about. Obviously these things can’t be helped, and I can only assume that the pressures of being in an up-and-coming band who relatively quickly become the critics' darlings would put an immense strain on anyone’s mental health. Fortunately the band have announced that the remaining six members will continue to make music under the same moniker, and the door will be open to Wood should he wish to return in the future.
In light of their roster change, the album itself takes on a slightly different character. It is noticeably different to their first, softer, more melancholic, and warmer, making full use of the bands extended instrumentation to do things other rock bands can’t. The record seems to tell the story of a relationship falling apart, as much as in the songwriter’s head as apparently in reality, as they long for the the simpler times of childhood and seem hopeful for the future, all as a way of dealing with the reality of the present. In that sense it seems very relatable; the current situation seems like it could be too much to bear and so the songs take place in some kind of dream, a way of dealing with the pain by dissociating from it. The music itself is as masterful as the storytelling, but I guess that’s to be expected from one of these “met at music college” bands. Despite the group saying that they were attempting to write “accessible three and a half minute pop bangers” they, uhh, didn’t, as the genre weaves somewhere from post rock, classical minimalism, jazz, and, I suppose, pop, the band seems to mix old school Arcade Fire with Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Steve Reich. Plus, the last track, Basketball Shoes is 12 and a half minutes long. But at least they tried.
I absolutely love this record, and I’ve already listened through it enough times to know most of the words. I fully expect this to be the thing I listen to most this year and even thought it’s only February, it’s hard to imagine an album that could displace this as my favourite release of 2022.