“Agonising” is an appropriate term to label the wait for music from certain bands. For fans of Hampshire-trio Blaenavon, the release of debut album That’s Your Lot will be a welcome reward at the end of a four-year, three EP-long journey. Frontman Ben Gregory has described the album as “5 years of our lives condensed into 59 minutes of yours”, conveying the lengthy process behind the construction of the LP. Recorded by Grammy-winning producer Jim Abbiss and out 7th April, That’s Your Lot is a bold first release – consisting of 12 intensely personal tracks that explore the confessions of youth.
‘Take Care’ is a thumping opener – a slow-builder that ends up throwing you straight into that Blaenavon-favoured melancholy chord structure. The trio have nurtured a haunting, ethereal sound that can be explicitly heard in the reverb guitar of the post-chorus. ‘Alice Come Home’ follows suit, leaping from slow to fast with Gregory’s Alt-J style emotive whispers. As a lyricist, he has always been more mature than his years; a first listen could kid you into thinking Gregory was Morrissey instead of a just turned twenty-something.
With its sing-a-long “ooh-ah”‘s and catchy chorus riff, it’s easy to see why ‘Orthodox Man’ is That’s Your Lot’s lead single. The track has become an anthem as of late, yelled back by the crowd whenever Blaenavon play live. ‘Lonely Side’s groovy Madchester-esque bass riff is similarly infectious – another genius offering from the album. Some songs are less memorable than others; ‘Ode to Joe’ and ‘Let Me See What Happens Next’, whilst pretty enough, end up paling next to huge numbers like ‘My Bark Is Your Bite’. It’s less of a criticism when you take into consideration that these are the only weak tracks in an hour long debut.
At just under eight minutes, That’s You Lot’s longest song, ‘Swans’, is a moment of brilliance. Its recurring guitar riff is almost math-rock in its complexity, so tense that it wouldn’t sound too out of place in a picturesque Hollywood blockbuster. Re-recordings of older songs also provide nostalgic high points. ‘Let’s Pray’ and ‘I Will Be the World’, both from 2016’s Let’s Pray EP, are undeniably moments of musical brilliance; ‘Prague 99’ is the only letdown of the album, an unnecessary remaster of its sublime 2013 predecessor. That’s Your Lot is bought to an end with its romantic title track – a climatic explosion with that typical Blaenavon sound to see things off.
When a band has released such consistently good music prior to a debut, there’s always a worry that the first album will be a slight disappointment. You can be assured, however, that this isn’t the case with Blaenavon. There’s weak points, of course – but they’re instantly forgotten when the lead singles of That’s Your Lot come into play. As their SoundCloud says, “Blaenavon is where the heart is, baby”; with the release of That’s Your Lot, 2017 promises to be the year that this trio win over a host of other hearts with their unique and truly phenomenal music.
Catch Blaenavon at these upcoming dates:
6 – Nottingham – Rough Trade – 6PM
7 – London – Covent Garden Fopp – 6PM
9 – Leeds – Jumbo Records – 3PM
10 – Bury St Edmunds – Vinyl Hunter – 1PM
10 – Birmingham – HMV – 5:30PM
11 – Manchester – Fopp – 5:30PM
12 – Oxford – Truck – 1PM
12 – Bristol – Rise – 6PM
13 – London – Rough Trade West – 6PM
13 – Kingston – New Slang – 9PM
21 – 23 – Sheffield – Tramlines
27 – 30 – Penrith – Kendal Calling