Review Summary: A delightful identity crisis
Boston Manor are one hell of a confusingly interesting band: incapable of finding their own sound, yet more than competent at writing stunning songs, Glue
is quite something. With this new record, the band seem to solidify the idea that they’re not willing to stick with a single winning formula, whether that be the clean-cut pop punk of debut LP Be Nothing
, or the more polished, yet unnecessarily repetitive alternative rock of follow-up Welcome to the Neighbourhood
. While both garnered widespread success and acclaim, arriving within two years of its predecessor, Glue
has more in common with Brand New’s Daisy
than anything Blink-182 has ever put out, and, well, it’s a mess. An occasionally delightful mess.
The entirety of the record can be summed up through three different case studies, eh, songs: “Liquid”, “Everything is Ordinary” and “Plasticine Dreams”. The former, simultaneously functioning as the lead single for Glue
, really isn’t all that special. If anything, the song is rather reminiscent of the band’s previous record, boasting a stadium-sized chorus and rather unremarkable if solid instrumentation. Nonetheless, Trophy Eyes’ John Floreani’s guest vocals add an interesting layer as his deeper tones compliment frontman Henry Cox’ voice beautifully. Lyrically, it’s fairly standard fare for Boston Manor: slightly above average, in this specific case dealing with uncertainties regarding one’s personality through elaborate metaphors of liquidity.
“Everything is Ordinary”, however, is anything but inoffensive. The opening cut is an absolute attack on the senses, with its obnoxious electronics, distorted drums and horrendously unnecessary vocal filter. In spite of this, it proves somewhat addicting: as annoying as the song is, its simplistic chorus solely consisting of “everything is ordinary now”
is catchy as hell. Yet, it is somewhat unclear why Boston Manor made these stylistic choices: a decent pop punk song (that would undoubtedly have gone over much better with a wider audience) is buried underneath the stroke-inducing production. Props to the band for experimenting, I guess, yet it appears to be a case of experimentation for the sake of
Lastly, “Plasticine Dreams” is a drop-dead gorgeous track. The song presents a more grunge-inspired sound, reminiscent of contemporary bands such as Basement and Balance and Composure. Clearly rather well-suited for the sound, Cox’ elegant, somewhat laid-back vocal melodies drift comfortably atop excellent instrumentation from the entire band. With the mix subtly focusing on a superb bassline, the crystal clear production makes one wonder why “Everything is Ordinary” had to sound like.. that
. Yet, with “Plasticine Dreams” being as delightful as it is, such things don’t really matter anymore. Hell, the song and its peers of this kind (“Ratking”, “1s & 0s”, “Monolith”) prevent Glue
from being just another failed experiment and elevate it to above-average levels of quality.
Because, altogether, Glue
is a difficult record to decipher. It’s hard to even view it as an album since it is absolutely useless at being a coherent one, and yet, it does wind up being a worthwhile listening experience. Perhaps the haphazard and somewhat obnoxious flow of the record is the point
: as abruptly as “Everything is Ordinary” ends, “1s & 0s” introduces itself with similarly heavy elements, yet succeeds to a much greater extent besides merely relying on catchiness. Similarly, the inoffensive “Liquid” is followed by the massive “Monolith”, which functions as a brilliantly all-encapsulating closer: occasionally unpleasant, somewhat brilliant and fully baffling. Glue
is not exactly Daisy
, but tries its hardest to achieve that record’s levels of quality, and comes surprisingly close at several points. Don’t expect a consistent album: expect to find several diamonds in the intentionally rough.