Photo Credit: Edd Taylor
Let’s start here: Boston Manor is not from Boston, but rather Blackpool, England. That’s the first of a number of surprises surrounding the quintet’s third album Glue. Although unfortunately for just about every twist, there’s also an element of predictability, perhaps not quite canceling it out but maybe hindering the band’s potential somewhat. The opener “Everything is Ordinary” begins by suggesting it’s an electronic track only long enough to give the listener that false impression before going into a solid punk riff. This is immediately followed by another strong rocker, “1s and 0s”, which is propelled by a talk-sing vocal as well as a solid drumbeat.
However, the pinnacle of Boston Manor’s legitimate ability comes through on “Plasticine Dreams.” The opening riff echoes the Smiths’ classic “How Soon is Now”, which itself perhaps informs the listener that the young rockers mean business with this one. It then quickly emerges as the tightest, most melodic and ultimately most enjoyable cut on the album, even throwing in an amazingly fleshed-out guitar solo. “Plasticine Dreams” is perhaps the perfect summer single for the unusual summer that we’re all now experiencing.
Closer to the vein of the aforementioned Smiths, however, most of the lyrics on Glue do lean towards what some may see as the more downer-ish. However, what Boston Manor does do is address many of the self-doubts that young people have, even – or particularly – the ones that have trouble clearly defining themselves. “I’m desperate to be heard, but I don’t have much to say // And I forgot the words, but I’ll scream them anyway,” the band sings on the strong mid-tempo “Terrible Love.”
Other lyrics on Glue possibly address that same confusion, with lyrics that are a bit more ambiguous, such as on “Brand New Kids” (even the title sounds like the name of a boy band). “We do what we want when we’re all brand new // We’re the brand new kids and you won’t see us // ‘Cause we look, look like you.” Are they suggesting, perhaps, that young people have trouble being heard because of (what older people perceive to be) the relative sameness of members of their generation? That unity just becomes blind conformity instead?
The fact that Boston Manor is capable of putting forth themes that are this compelling makes it all the more disparaging that much of Glue sounds similar to so much other modern rock. “Stuck in the Mud” is stuck between reminding the listener of not one but two unrelated songs entitled “Closer” (the one by Nine Inch Nails and that of the Chainsmokers). However, probably the only track on Glue that doesn’t quite hold together is “You, Me and the Class War”, an attempt at hardcore which tries just a bit too hard (say nothing of the title echoing that of Fall Out Boy’s “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race” to an uncomfortable proximity). It may be too early in their career to know if rock fans will want to take up permanent residence in Boston Manor, but Glue suggests that everyone should at least attend the open house.