Ants From Up There

Ninja Tune

8.5

Black Country, New Road

Ants From Up There

On Black Country, New Road’ sophomore album, Ants From Up There, the Cambridge, England septet push their klezmer-clad post-rock to new heights while expertly stretching their songwriting abilities. Whereas the band’s debut LP, 2021’s For the First Time, sped through numerous unpredictable twisting avenues and alleyways, Ants From Up There takes a more
tempered, measured approach to reaching its destinations.

Black Country, New Road wielded silence to achieve explosive results on For the First Time. “Science Fair” was a ticking time bomb with a broken dial—one could never tell for sure when it was going to detonate. But the band’s latest collection of songs feels less on edge; now, Black Country, New Road’s silence leaves room for beauty rather than a brooding sense of impending danger.

Fans who embraced the tone set by Lewis Evans’ sax and Georgia Ellery’s violin flourishes on “Track X” will find much to love on Ants From Up There. A blossoming bouquet of piano, sax, and strings decorate album standout “Haldern.” Long songs are the norm for Black Country, New Road (they average six minutes), but the band allow “Haldern” all the time it needs to flower and furl, making it the most beautiful moment in Black Country, New Road’s small discography. For even gentler sounds, “Bread Song” and “Mark’s Theme” are among the band’s most tender fare.

Songs like the closing triad of “The Place Where He Inserted the Blade,” “Snow Globes,” and “Basketball Shoes” demonstrate greater attention to composing fulsome, emotional songs with distinct movements rather than ripping around on a winding racetrack of inventive riffs and rhythms. That said, Black Country, New Road go out with a breathtaking bang on “Basketball Shoes.” At 12 and a half minutes long, it’s their lengthiest song to date, topping even their previous opus, the nearly 10-minute “Sunglasses.”

“We were really, really hyped making this record. We all love every single moment of this album,” Evans said in a statement about Ants From Up There. The joy shines through exuberant tracks like the jittery, dizzying twirl “Chaos Space Marine.” The fluttering “Concorde” sounds more hopeful than melancholic; in the hands of another band with a baritone croon like the National, though, that might be a different story. Black Country, New Road manage to sound even more self-assured on Ants From Up There than on For the First Time. With a wider sense of what they’re capable of, their future is as exciting as it has ever been, if not more.

Order Ants From Up There by Black Country, New Road HERE