Boston Manor – Datura (Album Review)

Boston Manor – Datura
Released: October 14th, 2022

Lineup:

Henry Cox // vocals
Mike Cunniff // guitar
Ash Wilson // guitar
Dan Cunniff // bass
Jordan Pugh // drums

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Boston Manor is a band I’ve loved seeing evolve over the past years. From 2018’s Welcome To The Neighbourhood, to 2020’s GLUE, 2021’s Desperate Times, Desperate Pleasures EP and now to Datura, we’ve slowly seen them embrace their moody, introspective, and atmospheric side, showcasing songs that sit comfortably in the dim light between dusk and dawn. And Datura is without a doubt an album you want to listen to by yourself when the sun isn’t in the sky.

‘Datura (dusk)’ begins the album with a flat, echoey drum beat and reminds me of those pipe drums. It is very much an intro track with its industrial synths and its anticipation building samples. We hear some of Henry Cox’s signature soft and sultry vocals and the song gives us no release but flows into ‘Floodlights On The Square’. This is a guitar heavy track and while the guitars drive the song forwards, they don’t take over, so you can still hear the drums, and the vocals merge with the song so well. Boston Manor have always managed to balance their instrumentals and vocals very skilfully. Watch out for that chorus because it’s quietly powerful.

‘Foxglove’ takes a step from moody and introspective towards a more rock heavy focus. Energy rises through the vocals and emotion rises too. There’s some self-deprecation and anger, and I like that the mix didn’t cut out Cox’s breaths. Some vocal ASMR really adds to the emotion portrayed. Continuing with the rock songs, ‘Passenger’ just begs fans to absolutely belt out the lyrics. Let’s hear this with a crowd of people and feel the energy passing from stage to crowd and back again. ‘Crocus’ comes into being with a strong beat and vocals to the front. The lyrics are quite strong, but I won’t speak to those because they’ll manifest differently for every listener. Although, it is worth noting that the music enhances the lyrics and vice versa. This is a cohesive band where every element matches together seamlessly.

Now, if we don’t count ‘Datura (dusk)’ because it’s an intro track, we only hear three songs before ‘Shelter From The Rain’. Why does this matter? Because ‘Shelter From The Rain’ is an interlude. It gives you a moment to reflect and collect yourself moving towards the end of the album; and because it does that, the songs, both before and after have more weight. ‘Shelter From The Rain’ is layered with rain sounds and has a cyber-punk instrumental type feel. It’s exactly what this album needs.

The seventh and last song on Datura is ‘Inertia’. While this album has been quite dark, lyrically and musically, ‘Inertia’ is uplifting. Cox states in a press release that this is a love song for his wife who has supported him through so much. It’s quite a beautiful song, and one that will surely produce some strong feelings while playing live. Listeners will notice that the album version of ‘Inertia’ is much longer than the single release, and when the song ends there is a rest before some spacey synths and samples. It feels very otherworldly, and then we’re suddenly left with bird song. The sun has risen and it’s a new day.

Datura is one of two parts—it’s very obvious from the way it ends. There is no resolution but a sense of hope and a peak that there’s a new dawn. I think Boston Manor have managed to craft a very thoughtful album; its lyrical content shows struggle and self-doubt and dark feelings, but we’re moving towards something more sustainable and positive. Somehow, the band have managed to portray all that, and when the second part comes out, this piece of art will be an unforgettable highlight of their career.

Boston Manor – DATURA tracklisting:

1. Datura (dusk)
2. Floodlights On The Square
3. Foxglove
4. Passenger
5. Crocus
6. Shelter From The Rain
7. Inertia

Rating: 8/10
Datura is out Friday, 14th October via SharpTone Records. Find it here.
Review By Ebony Story

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About Ebony Story (198 Articles)
Wall of Sound Music Journo & Podcast Host // Loving the heavy heavy