Pop-punk isn’t dead! in fact, over here in the UK it’s alive and kicking, having seen a revival through bands like Neck Deep, Moose Blood and Trash Boat who have gone on to sell out headline tours, and even grace main stages at the biggest festivals. The grassroots pop-punk underground here is booming, and Boston Manor are here to prove it to you. The much hyped Blackpool five-piece blend the pop-punk ethos we know and love with the brutally honest vocal sentiment of emo/hardcore to produce emotionally charged and gritty rock that’ll be circling in your head for days.
The band rode a wave of hype in 2013/14, encouraged by the release of 2014 mini album ‘Driftwood’, which delivered raw and untamable riffs and growling vocals to produce and angst-filled 16 minute suckerpunch. However, the band have shown that they’re more than just another musical quick-fix in the release of their debut full-length ‘Be Nothing’ which dropped just a few weeks back. This is the sound of a band growing up. After having a while to soak it up, this is what I thought…
‘Be Nothing’ is short at only 10 tracks, but boy, is it sweet. Boston Manor find the perfect balance between frantic punk and melodic pop hooks, accompanied by Henry Cox’s barking vocals which add another level of meaningful emotion to a fiercely honest album.
Urgent opening track ‘Burn You Up’ throws you in at the deep end with its guttural guitar line and lighting fast percussion, whilst Cox’s charged vocal performance ranges from a brutal yell to a tentative whisper, amplifying the songs impact. This track provides a no-nonsense introduction to what Boston Manor are all about, heart-on-your-sleeve pop-punk at its finest.
‘Lead Feet’ is a track full of fierce passion and guilt, that draws influence from Cox’s experience with an old school friend who fell astray. It’s 3 and a half minutes of melodic emo-hardcore, with lyrical honesty that would make Modern Baseball proud. It’s on lead single ‘Laika’ however that Boston Manor really shine, it’s distorted guitar building into an anthemic chorus that’s both simple and catchy, and don’t tell me that thumping bassline at the bridge isn’t the best shit you’ve ever heard. I also really love how the outer space references are weaved into the lyrics. It just goes to show how much the band have matured from their ‘rough around the edges’ origins, if you listen to one song on this album, make it this one.
The record just doesn’t give in, as haunting chimes softly welcome you into ‘Cu’, before the track opens up into a full-blown instrumental whirlwind. it’s definitely one of the mellower tracks on the album however, and I think it’s one of the most underrated. ‘Cu’ stands out for me as one of my favourite songs on ‘Be Nothing’, and is so infectious – the chorus line “lie to me” has been swimming in my head for days.
‘Broken Glass’ acts as a breather amongst the chaos around it, slowing the pace right down to produce one of ‘Be Nothing’s most emotionally charged tracks. Cox’s vocals sound almost harmonious here, lulling over Mike Cuniff and Ash Wilson’s soft riffs and a pacing drum beat, however for me it just feels like a forced attempt to throw some diversity into the album. It’s here that I feel that the band are at their best when they play it loud…
Over the next few songs, Boston Manor settle back into their groove, adopting a driven pop-punk approach, all fast-tempo distorted guitars and sweet hooks, but it’s the final track that really stands out for me here. ‘Fossa’ is a superb example of how to close an album, bringing together everything this band stands for. The dismal lyrical content (about burning down somebody’s house!) fits perfectly with Jordan Pugh’s energetic drumming and the upbeat vibe.
Sure, Boston Manor haven’t re-invented the genre. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s bloody good! This is probably one of the finest emo/pop-punk records you’ll hear this year, and the way the band can create the perfect fusion of the two is class. What really impresses me though is how Boston Manor have progressed from their DIY beginnings to produce a quality debut LP that’s packed with heartfelt emotion and meaty riffs. This band stands as a reminder that there’s life left in this “dead” genre.
Boston Manor’s debut album ‘Be Nothing’ is out now on Pure Noise Records, whilst you can also catch the boys on their November/December UK headline tour, where they’ll be joined by Can’t Swim and Wallflower. Go see them if you can, I can only see them going up from here.