What started as a Slint tribute act (see 2019 single Athen’s France) steps away from the raging imitation of the formative Kentucky band on Black Country, New Road’s new single, albeit only partially. Science Fair, the first release of their upcoming album, explores more experimental territory than their first two, but the outcome is still tired and uninspired.
The London band’s shtick is long, drawn-out, weird rhythm sections, choked with blurts of distorted guitars and anguished vocals. Science Fair, which came out at the end of October, amplifies these tropes in all senses, with much louder jolts of noise and bigger bouts of the discomfort they’ve formerly flirted with.
With disregard for rhythm and satirical splutter about micro-influencers, this crew of 7 20-somethings are tipping their classical training (at the prestigious Guildhall, I believe) on its head, chewing it up loudly and spitting it back out. It’s punk in spirit, but in the same way that the 1970s movement was spearheaded by privileged, white art school students. The band channel a DIY aesthetic and sound, but in reality, they are anything but.
It’s not all without merit, however. Admittedly, Black Country, New Road’s new track is more self-aware than their previous material. Indeed, on a second listen, I notice them acknowledge the hitherto-undiscussed Slint influence (delivered in an unironic posh warble), which adds some comic value. Furthermore, their technical ability cannot be disregarded as they bring together an impressive array of wind, string and percussive elements. Whilst their skill and anti-authority approach shows promise, their whole concept, image and all, remains vapid.
Featured image via The Times.