Pulled together from all 3 of their different themed performances at Bush Hall in December, the album documents a transitory period for the band following the departure of former lead singer Isaac Wood around the same time as the release of their stunning second album ‘’Ants From Up There’. With touring and festival commitments lined up and a desire to continue as a band, they switched to sharing vocal duties, as different members began to initiate ideas for songs and take the lead in singing them. So now we have May, Tyler and Lewis taking turns in the spotlight, and while each brings a different nuance the end result is still identifiable as BC,NR, albeit with an evolving sound.
The songs were honed throughout the year, developing into a standard set list which culminated in the 3 shows which were filmed and recorded. I was at the final, prom-themed show and it seemed like a real celebratory moment of connection between the band and their fans, so it’s great to have that released now for all to hear.
While on paper the lyrics to ‘Up Song’ might seem a bit cheesy (look at what we did together, BC,NR friends forever) when sung live by Tyler with the audience joining in it really is an uplifting moment and a great way to start the record. Vocal duties immediately switch to May for the whimsical story of ‘The Boy’, before Tyler again takes the reigns for ‘I Won’t Always Love You’. This is a bittersweet tale which features some very Radiohead-esque guitar and drums and then turns into a full-on band freakout.
While Lewis might not have the strongest of voices he certainly seems to have developed as a singer over the year and he does sometimes reveal a level of emotion in his songs that reminds me of Isaac, whether it’s in ‘Across the pond friend’ (which somehow reminds me of ‘My Way’) or the love letter to friendship that is ‘The Wrong Trousers’. It seems fairly clear to me who that song is about but you can draw your own conclusions.
‘Laughing Song’ is perhaps not as jolly as the title suggest, but does nicely namecheck sone of the other songs on the album in a way that helps tie the whole performance together.
Highlight of the album and the live shows has to be May’s incredible ‘Turbines / Pigs’. She holds the crowd in the palm of her hand, playing a grand piano while gently singing heartbreakingly about how unworthy she is. It brings Tori Amos vibes and a real intimate moment compared to sone of the the other more extroverted songs.
The closing double bill of ‘Dancers / Up Song (reprise) neatly close the song cycle and the performance comes to a close as the audience slip into the night (a very cold night if I remember rightly).
Perhaps the biggest question unanswered by the album is ‘why isn’t Georgia singing?’. I can only assume that, with the success of Jockstrap, she’s made the decision to restrict herself to singing in that band. By the way the second question that needs asking is whether ‘Turbines / Pigs’ is a deliberate Pink Floyd reference or an accidental one?
While the songs do lose a little of their impact and uplift without being able to see the interaction between the band members, it’s still a great document of this period in the band’s life and I can’t wait the see where the next chapter takes them.
The album is out digitally on 24th March, with vinyl copies available at the end of April.