By Luigi Sibona
It’s been a great year for British bands blowing the notion of the ‘difficult second album’ out of the water. While Boston Manor’s sophomore full-length isn’t making quite the same strides that Trash Boat, WSTR and Black Peaks are, it’s a solid progression of their sound and style.
Style is the resounding factor of this record, it’s drenched in it. There is a sleazy sensuality to the sound of ‘Welcome to the Neighbourhood’ that permeates every minute spent with it. From the opening synthed up instrumentation of the title track there’s a real sense of noir-soaked cinematic stalking. A sonic motief that matches up perfectly with the album’s threatening, monochrome cover art.
From track two, ‘Flowers in Your Dustbin’, you’re brought up to speed with the records other big hook; soaring, inescapable chrouses. Boston Manor have come packing an enviable amount of instantly infectious vocal melodies. Following up with lead single, ‘Halo’, this album opens up in a big way.
Watch the video for ‘Halo’ here:
Cuts like ‘Digital Ghost’ have a vague whiff of Deftones influence to them when vocalist, Henry Cox, lets his airy vocals fly. A pretty ambitious point of reference from a band coming firmly from the pop-punk scene. Tracks like ‘Hate You’ and ‘England’s Dreaming’ hit with a bit more gusto than others but this serves as something of a double edged sword, showcasing where the synthy, pop-focused production detracts from the song. A surprising element when you take into account how deck wizard, Mike Sapone, has been a reliable hand at layering the right amount of crunch into an emo record with past efforts for Taking Back Sunday and Brand New. I can’t help but feel a little more grit in the guitar tone and a meatier mix would have made these tracks standouts. As it is, they sit comfortably, if safely in the running order.
They don’t quite run out of steam in their 13 song, 43 minute outing, saving personal favorite, ‘Stick Up’ for the penultimate track. With its sense of sexy swagger and radio-ready hook, ‘Stick Up’ showcases what Boston Manor do best on ‘Welcome to the Neighbourhood’; a bouncy pop sensibility with just enough shadow-cloaked danger to keep you guessing.