Earlier this week Isaac Wood — the wild-eyed, poetic bellower at the center of the sprawling London art-rock band Black Country, New Road — announced that he was leaving the group for mental health reasons. That certainly changes how listeners will hear Ants From Up There, the band’s new album out today.
Ants From Up There arrives almost exactly a year after BC,NR’s debut For The First Time. It finds the band steering its epic blend of prog, klezmer, punk, jazz, and more in a somewhat emo direction. Wood has always been a romantic: “I told you I loved you in front of black midi,” he famously blurted out on the prior LP. Here he channels that energy into sweeping love songs and breakup songs strewn with pop culture detritus (“She had Billie Eilish style/ Movin’ to Berlin for a little while”), backed by music that shoots for cathartic bombast somewhere between Arcade Fire, Los Campesinos!, and Nick Cave.
The resulting record is an incredible creative statement that has me aching about Wood’s departure from the band. Black Country, New Road say they’ll be carrying on without him, like Pink Floyd after Syd Barrett — and if that’s the proper parallel, we’re looking forward to many more incredible albums down the line. But damn, what a note for this first iteration of the group to go out on. Stream Ants From Up There below.
Ants From Up There is out now on Ninja Tune.