How can I describe Black Country, New Road’s new single? It’s great. When hearing Track X (originally an early number from the group), I can’t help but feel like the collective spent their primitive days listening to Steve Riech’s ‘Music For 18 Musicians’. The oscillating patterns of Ellery’s violin especially reminds me of this piece. That being in it’s utopian and detailed instrumental imagery. Each pattern is a crossroad and each one looks as desirable as the next to go down (New band name: Black Country, New Crossroad – Insert audible groan here). Long before their eccentric no wave, post punk, vaudeville club music experiments, there is something else. This new single showcases a mellower side not all too common for Black Country, New Road. Complete with ethereal backing vocals and dreamy synths.
According to penman Isaac Wood, Track X “Never made it out into one of our live performances – We decided to resurrect it during the recording of For the first time and assemble it in the studio. The story is old but a good one and worth telling”. This story is definitely one he is fond of. Seen first hand regurgitated in different translations, with clippings of lyrics making their way into live performance jams, initially making me convinced I’d heard the track before. Last December, Wood performed a solo (The Guest) guitar soliloquy to open a Black Midi, New Road show in The Windmill. That piece included some of these lines, including the likely to be famed “Dancing to Jerskin (Fendrix), I got down on my knees. I told you I loved you in front of black midi”.
The lyrics are humorous, personal and of the time. An ode to The Windmill in part. Though admittedly I find myself a bit undersold knowing this track beat out to some of the more ambitious lyrical material they have performed live (two favourites – tracks describing Kendall Jenner’s forecasted breakdown and Social Media Algorithms have been ditched from the new album), Track X brings yet more diversity to BCNR’s boundary pushing sound, and is more than worth the attention. Likely a wonderful contrast when heard in the albums run time. An excited critic is in wait.