Ants From Up There may only be Black Country, New Road’s second album, but it marks the end of an era for the band. Prior to its release, frontman Isaac Wood announced that he was leaving the band. If it is to be their final album as a seven-piece, what a legacy it is they leave behind.
BC,NR’s debut album For the first time arrived wedged between two Black Midi albums, the guys that tapped into a whole new post-rock audience. While that (perfect) record arrived a day under a year before Ants, BC,NR have progressed dramatically in a short period.
“Might take some time to learn how to use thеse bodies right
But it is for this that God has gave us both thе night”
Ants is easily an early contender for album of the year and I doubt I’m alone in thinking that. More accessible in sound than FTFT, the band said they were inspired by the likes of Arcade Fire and Kurt Vile during the writing and recording process. Still, it is a post-rock record at heart, meaning you never get too comfortable in one sound. This, too, was aided by the 2021 tour which they used to test the new songs, with ‘Snow Globes’ one of the tracks to go through many alterations before the final version was settled upon. That song, which slips into my Top 10 for 2022 and it will remain there, perfectly captures BC,NR’s collective mind.
Speaking with Apple Music, saxophonist Lewis Evans said of ‘Snow Globes’: “This is another tune where we really thought about what we wanted from it before we wrote it. We had examples of things we liked, and one of them was Frank Ocean’s ‘White Ferrari’. We liked the idea of it almost being like two different bands [playing] at the same time. So you’ve got this quite simple but quite heart-wrenching, fugal-sounding arrangement of all the instruments with a drum solo that is just crazy and doesn’t really relate too much to what is going on in the other instruments. We react to the drum solo, but he doesn’t react to us. It’s that kind of idea.”
Let’s rewind to the beginning of the record. ‘Chaos Space Marine’ is perhaps the most direct song BC,NR have, coming in at three and a half minutes and sounding every bit a euphoric indie hit. ‘Concorde’ takes the record one step further, sweeping between moments of delicate intimacy and thrimph.
‘Bread Song’ is a brilliantly written story, a little comical too, while ‘Good Will Hunting’ has been lauded by many as one of the record’s best. On this one, Wood pines for a girl with “Billie Eilish style”. ‘Mark’s Theme’, a song written for Evans’s uncle who passed away from COVID-19 prior to the release of FTFT, is a beaufiul interlude dedicated to a man who supported the band from the beginning.
The closing track on the album, ‘Basketball Shoes’, is a song bassist Tyler Hyde described as “…essentially a medley of the whole album.” At 12-minutes in length, it touches on almost every other song on the album, making it a hell of a listen.
What now for Black Country, New Road?
In announcing Wood’s departure from the band due to mental health reasons, Black Country, New Road assured fans that the rest of the band will continue to make music together, adding that they’ve already started recording new material.
The band also stated that the upcoming tour is cancelled, meaning their 3Olympia gig is no more. This cancellation, of course, matters little when all facts are considered.
For now, we have two unforgettable BC,NR albums to enjoy. So jump right into Ants From Up There if you haven’t already, and let’s hope we see Isaac Wood rejoin the band down the line.
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Photo credit: Black Country, New Road Bandcamp