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For Black Country New Road, a dazzling journey begins in a triumph 'For the First Time' may be one of the finest musical achievements of 2021

For Black Country New Road, a dazzling journey begins in a triumph

'For the First Time' may be one of the finest musical achievements of 2021

by Jay Lewis, Reviews Editor
first published: February, 2021
Like a perfect photograph of a sunrise, you feel that, if captured a moment sooner or later, the light would be less dazzling.

BLACK COUNTRY NEW ROAD
For The First Time
(Ninja Tunes)

First of all, we should deal with the terribly misleading name. The band does not hail from Dudley, Wolverhampton, or any other part of the Black Country. None of the band have worked in any of the above’s local authorities Transportation Departments and, to date, no planning applications for new roads have yet to be submitted. 

These grumbles aside, the debut album from this septet is a triumph. Like a perfect photograph of a sunrise, you feel that, if captured a moment sooner or later, the light would be less dazzling.   Take the former single 'Sunglasses' - in 2019, Isaac Woods overwrought screamed vocals seemed to be those of a privileged kid having a petulant strop, mithering about minutiae and repeatedly screaming of 'Fuck me like you mean it' over a claustrophobic indie backing.   

The re-recording here is a significant improvement, the instruments are no longer playing the part of a supporting role, there's more space, there's more nuance to Wood's delivery and, occasionally, he even sings.  The over-sharing of swearing has been removed and the song actually builds and builds to its emotionally draining conclusion.Cover art Black Country New Road I still bury my head into my hands when I hear the line about sacrificing a goat on the otherwise dazzling 'Track X'  (note how the band sounds as close as they have so far to the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, whilst Woods delivers his perplexing monologue). However, it's the much-discussed bursts of Klezmer music that lifts this record, starting with the exuberant horns of the opening 'Instrumental' (yes, the titles are that basic) and then exuberant swirls of closer 'Opus' which matches Woods cryptic complaints so keenly. It brings the album to a dizzying climax.

'For The First Time' may be one of the finest musical achievements of 2021.  Cherish it before it goes.


Essential Info
For the First Time on Bandcamp (although it's everywhere too)

Jay Lewis
Reviews Editor

Jason Lewis is a Birmingham based music, movie and arts obsessive. Jason's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.


about Jay Lewis »»

Like a perfect photograph of a sunrise, you feel that, if captured a moment sooner or later, the light would be less dazzling.

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