While their 2016 debut full-length Be Nothing. was a great start to UK rock band Boston Manor’s career, it’s clear that, upon listening to Welcome To The Neighbourhood, the best was yet to come. Take the title track, for instance. It’s quite a shock for those who were introduced to the band’s initial pop-punk sound on their EP’s, especially. It’s a track that seriously flirts with hip-hop in a way that doesn’t seem forced, only natural – setting the tone for the rest of the album. And what a triumph it is.
If you think that track is a shock to the system, its follow-up “Flowers In The Dustbin” might be just as big. A more post-hardcore and heavy rock side of the band is shown here, and it really stands out as one of the bolder songs on the record. In fact, it almost sounds like something Failure would’ve done in the late 90’s on Fantastic Planet, if you desire a reference point. Elsewhere, vocalist Henry Cox’s improved vocals drive tracks like “Funeral Party” – and it’s clear that the band’s darker, yet hopeful aesthetic helps drive the band in a bold new direction as the record continues.
“Digital Ghost” might be the biggest song Boston Manor has released to date. Containing an almost Deftones-ish vibe (especially in the guitar tone), it’s yet another surprise on an album full of curveballs that always seem to connect out of the metaphorical ballpark. There’s enough guitar crunch on this album, and songs like this in general, to satisfy fans of Boston Manor’s heavier side.
For the older fans, though, there’s plenty of familiar vibes here as well. The angry “Hate You” works as a slightly weirder, distorted, and galloping version of something you would likely hear on Be Nothing., while the dark “Halo” also stands out. Its depiction of drug addiction is, for the genre and overall, quite harrowing – but also real. The peunultimate track, “Stick Up”, contains lots of catchy pop hooks packed into an anthemic rock song that Boston Manor has always hinted at (“Laike”, “CU”), but are fully realized here. We haven’t even talked about the album closer “The Day I Ruined Your Life”, which effortlessly morphs from an indie rock song to a confident, buzzing, anthemic rocker.
To put it swiftly, Boston Manor have exceeded even the highest expectations hoisted upon them on Welcome To The Neighbourhood. While some bands in the genre evolve and change with mixed results, there’s no doubting that Boston Manor aren’t your average musicians. No, this is a band that’s unafraid to experiment with different styles, and they succeed on all fronts. We’re looking at a likely game-changer that keeps Boston Manor – and Welcome To The Neighbourhood – above almost all of their peers. Simply jaw-dropping.