It’s not uncommon for a band to incorporate new things into their sound, especially as their career progresses. But to do it on their second record, commonly a make-or-break for groups, is a gutsy move. UK pop-punk outfit Boston Manor have done just that on Welcome to the Neighbourhood, and they do it very well.
The group hasn’t completely abandoned the sound they’ve been building, but they add new elements to ultimately give them an edgier and heavier vibe which is something you don’t see from many artists these days. A listener may initially think otherwise, as the title track and opener is very synth-driven, almost comparable to a Twenty One Pilots tune. While electronics make a regular appearance throughout, they don’t overtake the album. From there, Boston Manor take it to a whole other level as “Flowers In Your Dustbin” throws us right into the chaos.
The group experiments with their heavier side a bunch (“England’s Dreaming”, “If I Can’t Have It, No One Can”) drawing influence from nu-metal and other metal sub-genres, with vocalist Henry Cox throwing more screams into the mix. Then there’s also these grungy, almost ‘90s metalcore sounding, guitar tones riddled all over the record, but most notable on tracks like “Funeral Party” and “Hate You.”
Despite the constant heaviness, the band still manages to keep their songs catchy and anthemic. Songs like “Stick Up”, as well as the lead single, “Halo”, have big, repetitive choruses that you’ll know the words to in no time. Though it is a tactic that grows stale as you go further into the record, it is undeniably done so well. The album closes with the initially acoustic tune, “The Day I Ruined Your Life”. Starting off small, the track gradually builds up to this dark sing-along as every element comes in one at a time. An ideal closer to the record.
A kind of bizarro-primary-colours version of Tron, here’s the video for “Halo”.
Lyrically, the album revolves around the fictional concept of their hometown, and the turmoil it suffers. While not an uncommon theme in the pop-punk genre, there are a lot of deep meanings going into it, from poverty, to drug addiction, discomfort and more, that everyday people struggle with on a daily basis. It may have a specific meaning to the band, but the cut-throat reality (“I’d slit your throat to survive” – “If I Can’t Have It, No One Can”) being talked about is something we can all take away from this record. There’s more than meets the eye than what one would expect from a pop-punk album, but this isn’t your average pop-punk album.
With so many bands taking the softer route from their original sound, Boston Manor have taken the path less travelled and come out with a hard-hitting and fantastic product while continuing to satisfy fans of their earlier work.
Welcome to the Neighbourhood Track Listing:
01. Welcome to the Neighbourhood
02. Flowers In Your Dustbin
04. England’s Dreaming
05. Funeral Party
06. Digital Ghost
07. Tunnel Vision
08. Bad Machine
09. If I Can’t Have It, No One Can
10. Hate You
12. Stick Up
13. The Day I Ruined Your Life
Run Time: 43:11
Release Date: September 7, 2018
Record Label: Pure Noise Records