Boston Manor have covered a lot of ground since their first two EPs, Driftwood and Saudade, released in 2014 and 2015 respectively. What started as an emo/pop-punk project evolved into the fully-fledged, internationally acclaimed rock showpiece Glue in 2020. The band’s ambition to break ground and not retrace their steps has pushed them on to become one of the most promising bands in the U.K., and Datura is the first of their new two part full-length.
It is the title track which sets Datura in motion, as the listener is met with suspenseful guitar work, a gripping track that nods to the 2010’s indie/emo wave, with Thrice and Seahaven vibes present, before winding into a potent slab of modern rock with “Floodlights on The Square.” The boisterous interaction between lead vocalist Henry Cox and the guitar of Mike Cunniff set the tone for the rest of Datura, highly-charged and highly-atmospheric.
Lead single “Foxglove” is a fuzzy, punchy, anthemic, and fist-pumping, a piledriving wake-up call—Cox is a compelling orator; the feel of the record is digesting the anger and confusion as to the global events of the last few years. There’s an underlying cathartic temperament amongst the angst.
This is part of what makes Boston Manor such a digestible band, the sense that the listener can dip in and relate, without having to completely resonate with the narrative, understanding that life is both contradictory and messy. As such tracks like “Passenger” is emphatic and uplifting, but also a desperate cry for help, a dynamic and highly emotive zigzag of energetic dance vibes merging into an euphoric chorus.
Datura does fine work in building anticipation, and “Crocus” is a tune that progresses devilishly, balancing eerie and intricate and advancing imposingly on the listener, before “Shelter From The Rain” reworks the mechanics, a spacey, cyber instrumental that’s ethereal and mesmerizing qualities punctuate Datura, whilst potentially teasing more of what is to come on the second part of the record.
“Inertia” is a heart-on-sleeve “closer,” which is moving and beguiling in equal measure, like much of Boston Manor’s outfit their ability to cross-pollinate hopeful and positive with mournful and dark is tantamount to the juxtaposed catalog of emotions which Datura takes you through. The hidden track/outro which follows is a pain-to-peace transition which traverses Cox’s excessive drinking during lockdown, one of many highly relatable nods on the record.
Boston Manor are en-route to becoming an unbridled rock behemoth, and their ambition and dexterity are abundant again on Datura, a journey as much about not knowing, not understanding, and not being able to cope, as it is acceptance of who you are and the intrinsic hope that we all have, even in difficult times.
Datura is out tomorrow and available to pre-order here.