Photo Credit: Dan Cunniff
Eight minutes into Boston Manor’s new EP called DESPERATE TIMES DESPERATE PLEASURES and it starts to feel like it’s dragging on. Like if it would have been going on for maybe twenty minutes. When this phenomenon occurs in music it usually comes down to the same issue: the songs are too similar to each other without neither being so good that you want to keep listening or so bad that you don’t even want to give them a chance.
“Give me direction,” lead vocalist Henry Cox sings in the opening “Carbon Mono”, and that’s probably exactly what this Lancashire-formed British emo pop-punk band would need. While their blending of ’90’s grunge and early 2000s post-hardcore is skillfully assembled, it is quite generic and lacks a distinctive punch. “Carbon Mono” happens to be one of the greatest tracks on this five-song release, a large-scale piece of well-assembled emo-pop featuring some really great vocals by Henry, whose singing is one of the strongest elements in Boston Manor’s music.
A personal favorite song on the project is “Desperate Pleasures”, which may not be especially revolutionary but at least provides the EP with a focused, straightforward track while avoiding the occasional overproduction that this genre is often plagued by. Again, Henry’s vocals are stellar, sounding almost a little like the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas at times.
However, what still makes this EP somewhat of a disappointment is its lack of originality and the generic soundscapes (sorry but adding some strange sound effects is not a solution, rather a distraction) that makes it hard to set Boston Manor apart from other groups in the same musical vein. There are hundreds of pop-punk ballads sounding like “Let The Right One In” and even though it works fine as a powerful showstopper, it’s not enough to convince the listener.
In the end, what we got here is a band very much capable of what they’re doing, sticking to their formula, and steadily expanding their catalog. But they still haven’t found their own identity, which is worrying considering that the band has been around for quite some time now. If you’re already a fan of this kind of hazing, pleading, slowly evolving alternative hard rock, DESPERATE TIMES DESPERATE PLEASURES will probably keep you amused. If you want any surprises, however, you should probably look elsewhere.