Boston Manor aren’t ones to linger in place for very long; from their pop-punk debut, to the frazzled, experimental alt-rock of 2020’s ‘GLUE’, Boston Manor are constantly evolving. New album ‘Datura’ aims to take the band in yet another bold new direction, an ambitious dual-part journey into the depths of twilight. Set for release in two parts, part one already hints at this being the group’s most assured release yet. The sonic embodiment of a late night drive, ‘Datura’ bottles up the glow of amber streetlamps and the strange liminality of dusk – and the results are sharp, woozy and hypnotic.
From the off, ‘Datura’ is drenched in atmosphere. Titular opener ‘Datura (Dusk)’ thrums with warmth, Henry Cox’s gentle vocals sinking you into the album’s world. Pensive and slow, the track slowly sets the scene, vignettes of life carving out something familiar yet twisted. The spellbinding ‘Shelter from the rain’ is also an undeniable stand-out in terms of atmosphere, however; the track is the height of immersion, planting your body on the cold seat of a bus shelter at midnight, curious, naive and reflective.
Though subtle, the balancing act of light and darkness is a key ingredient throughout ‘Datura’. Despite the darker sonic palette, ‘Datura’ thrives when it utilises those darker tones for its softer, more hopeful tracks. ‘Passenger’ is a cry of mystifying faith, verses gloomily pulsing before bursting into a weightless chorus, while ‘Inertia’ oozes vulnerability as it gently unfolds, Cox’s vocals sedative and gorgeously soft.
While this is undoubtedly an album that you can float away with, there is a solid selection of hard-hitting alt-rock bangers – every late night drive needs a sing-along or two. ‘Floodlights on the square’, ‘Crocus’ and the fantastic ‘Foxglove’ kick out familiar rumbles of brooding Boston Manor riffs – and, of course, there’s a brilliant slew of Boston Manor lyricisms to sift through. With smooth lines like “I am the poster child, a sucker for original sin” belting out over the woozy groove of ‘Foxglove’, it’s impossible not to appreciate how effortlessly cool and slick Boston Manor truly are.
Rich, warm and deeply immersive, ‘Datura’ is brooding proof of a band refined. The sonic palette is the most cohesive Boston Manor have captured to date, resulting in an album that feels like a complete world within itself. We can’t wait to uncover what Part 2 will add to the experience – and, with a glitchy whirl of synthetics and a burst of light, airy birdsong sneakily hidden in the final minutes of closing track ‘Inertia’, it’s fair to assume that the palette might take a sharp turn…
Words: Emily Swingle