One listen through That’s Your Lot and it’s evident Blaenavon don’t fit the indie band mold in the slightest. The debut album, released April 7, is a fluid journey through emotional expression. Each song on the record is crafted thoughtfully and made to stand apart from the next.
During our interview with the band at SXSW in Austin, singer Ben Gregory points out that Blaenavon is “not just another indie band from London.”
Blaenavon self-proclaimed their progressive alternative rock title, while their hard work separates them from the rest of the indie buzz wave. Ahead of the album, Blaenavon released “I Will Be The World” as a single, which captivated me with such force I had no choice but to pay attention to the fresh-faced English rockers.
The song is a masterpiece of floating falsettos and a single delicate guitar melody, which quickly builds to a roar that swings like a pendulum between a mesmerizing chant “I will be / I will be the world” and an echoing cry of “change / I don’t want to change.” It then shifts full-force into pulsating percussion that wills the song forward at faster tempos, while guitar and bass leave it dripping in distortion. The shredding continues to build bar after bar in a hypnotizing daze until suddenly returning to the stripped-back melody and vocals, and leading to an abrupt end punctuated with an exclamation by Gregory’s vocal inflection.
If “I Will Be The World” were indicative of the album, Blaenavon would quickly find their spotlight on the big stage. Gregory told us that every song on the album was different from the next, but it still took me by surprise that one band could capture so such diverse sounds and emotion in one album.
“Take Care” opens the album with gentle falsetto caresses, and pleading vocals, which moves into jazz-like guitar melodies and cymbals that spiral again into a demanding fit. “Let’s Pray” and “Orthodox Man” follow in a happy-go-lucky indie rock style, but with the lyrical audacity of a much darker subject.
“Lonely Side” is a funky slow-jam that will make you want to pull out your bell bottom pants and simultaneously cry. It’s a teenage dream. Halfway through the album, “Let Me See What Happens Next” takes a turn with a gentle piano ballad, making it a hidden gem of the album.
“Alice Come Home” mirrors the energy and musicianship of “I Will Be the World.” These two songs outline the band’s future potential. Emotions are strung high in a hurricane of vulnerable, hair-raising moments to thunderous shredding.
Overall it’s refreshing to hear an album that’s not ten of the same songs. That’s Your Lot is representative of a band that challenges the trends in the alternative rock world. “Ode To Joe” is something you would expect from a sad boy experimental psych group. But maybe that’s what Blaenavon is, with influences as wide as jazz, funk, garage and psychedelic rock. Who’s to say they can’t be a sad boy experimental psych group and also England’s next big rock band?
The versatility and emotional range is reminiscent of to the passion and aggression found on Wolf Alice’s 2015 debut, a hopeful indication of the future of English rock. Gregory said they want to make music that will stand up to the test of time, and they’re right on track. With a band deeply invested in their music as they are, there’s nothing stopping them from sweeping England away.