Black Country, New Road — For The First Time — Album Review

Alternative | Post-Punk | Post-Rock

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

When I first heard about Black Country, New Road, for whatever reason, I had no idea that they were actually a band. I don’t know how I got it into my head that they were an events company, but I’ll leave that embarrassing assumption in the past.

What Black Country, New Road actually are, is a 7-piece post-rock group that was formed in London in 2018. With their debut single release “Sunglasses” in 2019, the lead-up to their debut album carefully grew.

At the very beginning of 2021, I had heard mention of Black Country, New Road’s debut album, titled For the First Time, fluttering about, and I had hoped that I wouldn’t be so incredibly busy during the week it had been released, as a way to give myself time to familiarise myself with the band and their sound. Unfortunately, such a week did not transpire, and on the contrary, it has been the busiest musical week of the year. Nevertheless, I finally found the time to initiate a skim-over of For the First Time, and at that very instant, I felt like it was too bold of a project to miss out on.

The fact that this debut album only carries 6 songs, despite still being 40 minutes in length, had no trouble suggesting to me that For the First Time was a project with a focus towards creating an immersive and impactful experience, by drawing each track out enough to create a fleshed-out mood for each of them.

Starting off with an instrumental track, I feel like said opener successfully set the stage, kind of like how you expect an instrumental intro to feel in a live set. Although, it’s fairly extensive for an instrumental into, clocking in at almost 6 minutes, and feeling fairly distant from the following track in the grand scheme of things. As for the final track “Opus”, I felt that the switches between the dynamic bridge-sections and the slow, sludgy verses didn’t pair together as nicely as I had hoped.

I thought it best to mention the opening and closing tracks first, as everything that is sandwiched between the two, is where I got the strongest sense of how compelling the band is. I could definitely sense a Slint influence (particularly in the track “Athens, France”), in regards to how the band phenomenally portrays a sense of narrative through each musical composition.

I also love how vocalist Isaac Woods vocally delivers. And while it isn’t as simplistic as most albums to pinpoint what exactly Woods is singing about, he delivers each lyric in such an emotive way, that it completely commanded my attention, and definitely had me intrigued. Particularly on the track “Science Fair”, in which Woods plays the role of a somewhat unreliable narrator, his vocals, along with the ever-intensifying instrumental, truly set an unsettling tone.

And as for just how well-this seven piece work together, I feel like you needn’t look further that “Track X” to find out just how amazing their chemistry is. The flow of this track is absolutely gorgeous, and allows it to arguably stand as my favourite track on the record.

When all is said and done, I am very glad that I got round to listening to this project, as For the First Time genuinely stands as an amazingly bold and daring debut piece, which feels like a true rarity in today’s musical climate.

Favourite Tracks: Athens, France | Science Fair | Track X

Least Favourite Track: Opus

Ninja Tune

Enjoyment: 8/10 | Memorability: 9/10 | Atmosphere: 10/10

Uniqueness: 9/10 | Satisfaction: 7/10 | Narrative: 9/10

Final Score: 9/10

My articles mainly revolve around music reviews and analysis. A bit like Anthony Fantano, but just a decade behind.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store