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Albums Of The Week: Black Country, New Road | Ants From Up There

The future may be uncertain for the British indie-rock outfit, but their sophomore album is a stunning triumph that melds post-rock, chamber-pop, roots and more.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Black Country, New Road’s second album Ants From Up There arrives almost exactly a year to the day from the release of their acclaimed debut For The First Time — and days after singer-guitarist Isaac Wood quite the band.

The band (Lewis Evans, May Kershaw, Charlie Wayne, Luke Mark, Tyler Hyde, Georgia Ellery and Wood) have clearly harnessed the momentum from that record and run full-pelt into their second, managing to strike a skilful balance between feeling like a bold stylistic overhaul of what came before, as well as a natural progression. With For The First Time, the band melded klezmer, post-rock, indie and an often intense spoken word delivery. On Ants From Up There, they have expanded on this unique concoction to create a singular sonic middle ground that traverses classical minimalism, indie-folk, pop, alt rock and a distinct tone that is already unique to the band.

First single Chaos Space Marine combines sprightly violin, rhythmic piano, and stabs of saxophone to create something infectiously fluid that builds to a rousing crescendo. It’s a track that Wood calls “the best song we’ve ever written.” It’s a chaotic yet coherent creation that ricochets around unpredictably but also seamlessly. “We threw in every idea anyone had with that song,” he says. “So the making of it was a really fast, whimsical approach — like throwing all the shit at the wall and just letting everything stick.”

Recorded at Chale Abbey Studios on the Isle Of Wight, across the summer with the band’s long-term live engineer Sergio Maschetzko, it’s also an album that comes loaded with a deep-rooted conviction in the end result. “We were just so hyped the whole time,” says Hyde. “It was such a pleasure to make. I’ve kind of accepted that this might be the best thing that I’m ever part of for the rest of my life. And that’s fine.”

But it’s not fine for everyone, apparently. Earlier this week, Wood announced he was leaving the band: “Together we have been writing songs and then performing them, which at times has been an incredible doing, but more now everything happens that I am feeling not so great and it means from now I won’t be a member of the group anymore,” he wrote on social media. “To be clear: this is completely in spite of six of the greatest people I know, who were and are wonderful in a sparkling way.”