Following on almost exactly a year to the day from the release of their acclaimed debut “For the first time”, the band have harnessed the momentum from that record and run full pelt into their second, with “Ants From Up There” managing to strike a skilful balance between feeling like a bold stylistic overhaul of what came before, as well as a natural progression.
Four days before the highly-anticipated release of their follow-up to For the First Time, Black Country, New Road announced that they’d no longer be a septet – lead singer Isaac Wood had left the group. While this may have come as a shock to the group’s cult-following, listening to Wood’s lyrics throughout Ants From Up There, it becomes clear that the record was intended to be his breakup album with the group. Wood references a dying relationship with “Concorde,” a style of supersonic jet that was discontinued in the early aughts. On the third track, Wood sings “but for less than a moment we'd share the same sky, and then Isaac will suffer, Concorde will fly” a line that perfectly captures the undertone of the album (for the band to continue and grow, Woods needed to leave). After all, the band’s sound has changed drastically since their debut, leaving behind many post-punk tropes to shift towards chamber-pop a la Arcade Fire’s Funeral. The Montreal indie-rock group’s influence comes through heavily on tracks “Chaos Space Marine,” “Good Will Hunting,” and the closer “Basketball Shoes.” Scattered throughout the album there are also hints of Klezmer, a genre of Jewish folk music studied by some of the members. Ants From Up There is by-far the group's most accessible work, and while it may be the end of the first era of the group, they are still pushing their sound forward with their latest release Live at Bush Hall. This deluxe 4LP edition includes the entire album alongside a full live concert recording, plus four art prints and a deluxe box enclosure.