Boston Manor - GLUE (Cover Artwork)

Boston Manor

GLUE (2020)


To Henry Cox, this global crisis is merely an extension of the unprecedented times we were already living in. All of the “now more than ever’s” and messages of uncertainty that we’ve been beaten over the head with are just added blows delivered by the world that’s been pouncing on us long before the pandemic. Everything that we’ve known to be abnormal is now the new norm, and the boisterous frontman is fed up. His tipping point comes in the form of “Everything Is Ordinary,” a fuzzy and explosive industrial-rock assault that leads the charge on GLUE, Boston Manor’s third studio LP.

Boston Manor has always been a band with grim undertones, even in their poppiest of moments. Their hook-centric days were filled with sadness and apologies and now on GLUE, we see them as angry and combative. That machine-driven rush of the opener, spills right into the angsty and chaotic “1’s and 0’s,” proving that Boston Manor is ready to take on anyone and anything. On this gassed-up Stabbing Westward-inspired track, Cox takes on the media and other outside influences for preying on the naïve and gullible. He doesn’t give himself a pass in his state-of-days ire either, as he's often looking inward, battling his own insecurities and mental instability like on the dreary, emo-pop “Terrible Love” and the alt radio-ready “Brand New Kids.”

GLUE is a record that opens the floodgates of fury and flushes out the pop-punk pillars that Boston Manor was built upon. While some stains remain, (“Liquid,”) the band’s frustration and brute attitude are channeled through blazing grunge with a heavy early-90s industrial influence. “Playing God” showcases their redefined sound by balancing distorted riffs and shifty baselines, grinding into a filthy chorus full of loud and sweet crooning. Lyrically, it’s lean and streamlined, but its the most dynamic and captivating song on the record.

It’s not all just full-throttled, strobe light-y aggression on GLUE, as Boston Manor finds ways to guide their rage through soft and swoony tracks like “Plasticine Dreams,” that takes aim at entrainment industry, and the on the piano-led “Stuck in the Mud” where Cox targets himself, fighting against the youth that’s slowly fading away.

GLUE is absorbent and striking, but it’s when Boston Manor can break the mental and physical isolation that this record will really take off. Admittedly, I didn’t give its predecessor Welcome to the Neighbourhood much of a chance initially, as it lacked the simple and instantaneous catchiness from their prior releases. It wasn’t until I caught them live on that album cycle, a last-minute decision to check them out at Slim’s, (RIP,) during a work trip, where their stage presence and energetic eruption poured life into these otherwise unimpressionable songs. GLUE possesses that adrenaline from the get-go, and when Boston Manor can burst out of shelter, it’ll be a fight to see.