Words by Dexter Clark

An iconic album which punctuates this era of the Windmill Band.

The announcement of frontman Isaac Wood leaving just two days before the release of this album opens the door to the true meaning of ‘Concorde’. The consistent metaphor used throughout this album, and most prominently during the song ‘Concorde’, it explores Isaac’s relationship with the band and how Isaac must leave the band, just as the Concorde jet had to be retired after one of the jets crashed. 

This album is incredible, through its twists and turns all melting together to create what is at its core a breakup album – though not a conventional one. The album seems a like a clear farewell from Isaac towards the band in which he helped to grow so much. The context surrounding the album melding with the lyrical poetry about a breakup make this piece of music an instant classic. 

Highly anticipated songs feature within this record, with both ‘Basketball Shoes’ and ‘The place where He Inserted the Blade’ both being played live many times before this album released on previous tours and at festival sets. 

Ants From Up There is very different than For the First Time. Ants From Up There seems to concentrate more on Jazz elements and guitar takes a step back to allow the violin and saxophone to take centre stage. The lyrics seem to be more mature and the entire album seems to have more of a united theme. With For the First Time, the album could vary differently mood wise from song to song, but all these songs seem to share the theme of breakup, growth and moving on. 

Continuing from this, the albums maturity is evident. The albums emotional impact is much more melancholy than For the First Time, which seemed to depict that bands frustrations and anger. 

This band seems to attract a lot of comparisons, first with Slint after they made For the First Time and now Arcade Fire for Ants From Up there. The band consistently joke about both comparisons, but it seems clear that the band is so much more. 

A band playing on a stage

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The album explodes into action with the opening track ‘Intro’, although the least memorable song on the album still leaves a lasting impression. It is also an excellent pre-cursor to ‘Chaos Space Marine’, which Isaac claimed was the best song the band has ever written. Though not the best on the album, it is a spectacular song, using all of the bands strong points, with a particularly strong violin composition played by Georgia Ellery. 

The standout tracks for this album are without a doubt ‘the Place Where he Inserted the Blade’ and ‘Basketball Shoes’. The former of these two is a phenomenal song that starts with a slow piano and builds up and crashes down into an emotional loud chorus. This is one of the key songs where the violin, piano and saxophone take centre stage. The song manages to create strong emotions due to the fact of Isaac exploring his own feeling and mental struggles, as well as including the mystery person in which we are led to assume is no longer together with him. 

‘Basketball Shoes’ is the best track Black Country New Road has ever written, and it’s clear that the entire album is a build up to this release of Isaac’s emotions and musical tension. The song starts with guitar and slowly builds, constructing a beautifully jazz inspired post-punk composition mashed together with Isaac’s classic angst-ridden voice, delivering poetic lines and sending chills over my body. I can confidently say that this is one of the best songs I have ever heard. It never fails to give me goosebumps every time, and I am not someone who normally has these physical reactions to music. In a way, the whole album is a build up to the last four minutes of basketball shoes where the album begins to unravel and crash down in a truly overwhelming yet immersive musical rollercoaster. With Isaac’s aching lyrics create a pattern on top of the instruments which make the bands vision totally clear. “Oh your generous loan to me, your crippling interest”, are to the most impactful, and the last lyrics spoken on the album. 

 The songs slow build is truly what makes the last four minutes so beautifully satisfying.  ‘Basketball Shoes’ is a behemoth in length totalling at over 13 minutes long, it is the longest song that the band has ever released. None of this time feels wasted as all of it is necessary, which is a phrase I could apply to the entire album. ‘Basketball Shoes’ is Isaac signing off from the band in fashion fit for a post-rock icon and certainly leads the way in a lasting legacy. 

The band has stated that due to Isaac’s departure they won’t play any songs from the first two albums live, unless Isaac joined them once more. This album being respectfully laid to rest immediately after its debut gives it a mystical edge, one that could be resurrected with his return albeit in a long while. 

Categories: Music

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