Boston Manor have upped the hype for their album on the way with the release of two new singles; “On a High Ledge” and “Ratking”. Glue was announced last month, when the noisetastic single “Everything Is Ordinary” was released. Considering just these three songs (and “Liquid” which released last year), it’s already becoming obvious that the Blackpool band’s third album will be a multifaceted listen. We’ll find out when it releases on 1st May, via Pure Noise Records.
Though we’ve not seen a press release for these songs, it was impossible to go past “On A High Ledge” when it came up in my Spotify Release Radar, so I decided to dive into both tracks. “On A High Ledge” is beautiful and otherworldly, courtesy of synthy loops of melody that feel like gentle (yet unrelenting) shoves. It’s already an intriguing experience from even 30 seconds in.
Henry Cox’s vocals don’t give away too much emotion in their predominantly cool and level expression, coming across like being in a trance. I picture it as a slow motion existence that has them floating or hovering, while also being wired into a memory. The audible breathing and added rhythms that give a ‘something’s coming’ vibe work brilliantly well when coupled with the trancey voice and waves of melody.
“I think I’m different”
Burgeoning bass and a growing strength has the neutral state grow more serious, inspiring an internal unsettling for the listener. As simple as it is by way of lyrics, the “On a high ledge” chorus and its looping surprisingly says a lot (to me, at least). It gets rhythmically stuck and unstuck, and falls in and out of rhythm courtesy of the addition of a “ledge”, reminding me of someone fitting in and then not fitting in.
As “On A High Ledge”‘s seriousness grows, so does the unease in my stomach, and the jangling guitar reflects something akin to a slow emotional bleed. The following chorus has a piercing severity like an internal scream, and the continually growing pressure is palpable. Everything feels more chaotic as it goes, with every facet and layer combining.
The music video follows a man on his journey as he walks through the street and climbs stairs before climbing up to a ledge. It then specifically references the high prevalence of suicide in men, in particular men who are under 25. The slowly building song (and video) captures how every little knock has built upon other knocks, and led to this path being chosen. This is perhaps to reflect this slowly building epidemic that may not be obvious in its direct cause, but may have many little uncertainties and moments of not fitting in behind it. Like a spark becoming a destructive blaze if more and more fuel is thrown onto a pile.
Through the final section of the song, it’s as if the fall from that high ledge has happened, and beautiful angelic harmonies flood this moment. The choral “Man up, man” adds to the societal ideas about masculinity and how this idea of needing to be macho, rough, and hardened is pervasive. The entire experience of the song leaves a haunting aftertaste – as it should.
“Ratking” is far more like signature Boston Manor in sound and could easily be a B-side to Welcome to the Neighbourhood, but there’s more going on than expected. The song immediately drops the listener into a scene with an impactful first lyric “Slam that door one more time I swear to god”, and we’re face to face with conflict. In reading the lyrics of “Ratking”, I appreciated how this song talks about not fitting in, but in a different way to “On a High Ledge”.
Despite the conflict, there’s groove to “Ratking”, and the melody that runs through it has a mystique to it. I take it in as someone trying to manoeuvre around another person, but not understanding how to do so.
Simple again at the chorus, with the repetition of a single line, it sounds like a celebration and reads like defiance. With the two combined, I take it as someone celebrating who they are and refusing to be labelled negatively.
“Don’t call me a freak, I’m just not feeling this”
Loving the bass digs and the percussive crashes on the verses, there’s greater noise as the song goes on, like a simmer threatening to boil. I adored the clearer arrival of the bass at the pre-chorus (“You always knew how..”), and how it seems to twist and writhe out of the grips of constraints, finding its own dance in the process. At the following instrumental section, it feels more driven to be free; to shake off the limitations from others. Like ‘This is who I am’.
The pared back almost confessional moment is unexpected, and happily so. It sounds radiant in its vulnerability and intimacy, where a glimmering twisting melody has noisier instrumentation piled upon it. At “Ratking”’s last chorus, with overlaid messages of overcoming, there’s a huge sense of satisfaction and defiance, and it’s undeniably another great song for Boston Manor.
Based on these singles so far, Glue may be full of surprises, hey? Time will tell. Pre-orders are available at: http://smarturl.it/BManor
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