On September 30th, 2016, Boston Manor released Be Nothing., their debut full-length album. In the time since, the band gathered quite the following due to their raw and powerful lyrics, fueled by passion and angst and everything else that makes pop punk so badass. Back nearly two years later with their sophomore LP, Welcome to the Neighbourhood is a totally new approach that will completely blindside fans who were hoping for more of the same old sound.
Starting the album off is title track “Welcome to the Neighbourhood,” and it’s clear that Boston Manor are throwing away all expectations and experimenting with a new alt-rock-esque style. Hats off to them for the effort, but if you’re here for the punk vocals from Henry Cox that you fell in love with two years ago, you may be turned off by this record right off the bat. Although it drew me in due to the element of surprise, I was ultimately underwhelmed by the end of the intro. After listening to the rest of the record, I wholeheartedly believe that they could have picked any other song to introduce the album–this one just didn’t do it justice.
The following song, “Flowers in Your Dustbin,” immediately carries a heavier edge in contrast to the opener. The fact that Boston Manor went from a somewhat boring intro to a number like this kept me on my toes. With insane guitar riffs courtesy of Mike Cuniff and Ash Wilson, and some screaming towards the second half, this song satisfied what I, personally, had been waiting for. “Flowers in Your Dustbin” brought my hopes back up for what the rest of the LP may have in store.
“Funeral Party” is one of my favorites from Welcome to the Neighbourhood. The backing vocals from Mike and bassist Dan Caniff make the song whole, adding an extra dimension and some complexity to its overall sound. The screaming in this one is intense and essential, considering just how much the guitars are absolutely shredding. The inclusion of this song to the album was absolutely necessary in order to pick up the energy and give it some life.
I can’t review this album without mentioning “FY1,” an interlude that takes the place of track 11. Streaming at just a little over a minute, this one sounds like the backing for an alien movie where they are invading the planet and abducting humans. With some spooky vibes, it provided a nice break and immediately caught my attention. Is it different? Yes. But the total freedom of creative expression is essential and encouraged, and, again, I’ve got to give it up to Boston Manor for this one. The album went from loud and in your face to a suddenly quiet, eerie instrumental, before picking things up again.
On Welcome to the Neighbourhood, Boston Manor came out of the gate completely fresh, bare, and honest with the experimentation and bending of multiple genres to make an alternative rock/metal album that will leave fans absolutely scratching their heads. Was this album for me? Maybe not. But does this album showcase Boston Manor’s creativity and willingness to grow as artists? It absolutely does, and I think, after a few listens, fans will embrace it and welcome it with open arms.
WORDS BY EMILY GORDON