Your early twenties more than any other period in life is the time in which it makes most sense to be undecided; in the emotional melting pot could be leaving home, a new job, or a relationship maybe that didn’t outlast teenage dreams of eternity still weighing on the mind. The various members of Black Country, New Road fall into this general age bracket and as if to underline the belief that nothing is permanent yet, two of the songs which make up For the first time‘s half dozen are rewritten versions of their ecstatically praised early singles.
As with any outfit so deified before anyone really gets to know them, there’s a pervasive tension between whether their zeitgeist-surfing ephemera – devices such as the interchangeable use of Klezmer, free-jazz and post rock motifs – are things just stumbled upon by accident or more carefully assembled. There are clues; the reworks of Athens, France and Sunglasses suggest that in singer/songwriter Isaac Wood they have somebody more concerned about sound and shape than their diffident collective persona would have us believe.
Recording finished last March just before the first lockdown kicked in and there is also a sense that the freedom to experiment whilst taking advantage of a proper studio environment was a fortunate luxury. For the first time still locates people and instruments in flux, from the Arthur Russell influenced Track X to Science Fair’s contorted experimental scree. The time for decisions will eventually come, but for Black Country, New Road there are still an infinite number of doors to try, each with an endless gang of outcomes behind them.
Read the full review here.