For the first time – Black Country, New Road ★★★★

2021For The First TimeBlack Country, New Road★★★★82RockAlternative RockPost Rock

For The First Time, the debut album from For  Black Country, New Road, is a strange, disjointed but highly engaging record that really hits hard at some points musically and lyrically. 

The band combines punk and post-rock guitar and drum elements with Eastern European-sounding string and saxophone melodies and math rock leaning rhythms which, when paired with Isaac Wood’s oddly energetic, dramatic, poetic and sarcastic vocals, created this edgy, dark, personal and somewhat manic aura throughout the album. He puts out a great vocal performance that mixes spoken word and raw singing with lyrics that are incredibly vivid, emotional and surprisingly catchy. 

The 40 minute album has only six tracks, which means each song is long, dense, moves through different sections and instrument mixes. Because of that, it isn’t always an easy listen. Some songs that seemingly start off sounding pretty normal intentionally break down slowly and become unhinged, with noisy bursts of energy or shouting, which I love but isn’t the most accessible for everyone. 

Oddly enough, the two best tracks are the longest and the shortest. The almost 10-minute long “Sunglasses” starts a bit softer and relaxed, before devolving into a chaotic, pounding mix of horns, guitars and yelling that makes you forget where the song even started in a really rewarding way. Then “Track X” follows up as a really subtle, emotional ballad that follows a repeated, gentle guitar riff, with some playful staccato saxophone and violin work mixed in as a texture. The soft, synthetic keyboard notes added above the harmonies during the chorus are a beautiful resolution that matches the story Wood is telling through the lyrics.


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