19 Jun 2021 - Simon
Progressive rock, Stoner metal, Doom metal | Ripple Music | Release date: 04 Jun 2021
Wigan five-piece Boss Keloid return with an incredible, sonically stunning example of what happens when you follow your heart and not churn out just what is expected of you.
If you could plot the trajectory of Boss Keloid on a chart (quite why you would do that I don’t know but bear with me) then it would show considerable growth and popularity from debut album Angular Beef Lesson on through their critically acclaimed 2016 effort Herb your Enthusiasm and carrying on to pervious effort Melted on the Inch (which just so happened to be one of my favourite releases of 2018). If you were to also plot the progressive ‘not giving a shit’ attitude of the band on this same chart, they would follow pretty much the same course, it seems the weirder the band gets, the more popular they become. Which brings me nicely to their new album Family The Smiling Thrush.
If you look at the band’s history then you think you should know what to expect by now, but this album will still throw you through a loop. You see, it still very much remains a Boss Keloid album with their oh so recognisable signature guitar tone and syncopated rhythm section, but everything has been dialled up to 11. It seems these magicians have been quietly brewing something very special indeed.
Opening nine minute song “Orang of Noyn” picks up almost where they left off on Melted on the Inch with their distinctive sound and rumbling low end, indeed this song could quite easily have made it onto the previous album. The music on display here is glitchy, heavy, very dense and gloriously off kilter from anything else on the Earth’s axis.
Things only get stranger and more perplexingly brilliant from there on in. This is the heaviest the band have been for a while, but this is cleverly offset by the soul affirming melodies to be heard throughout this album. “Grendle” is a great example of this as the heaviness and melody intertwine and coalesce into a glorious gumbo of wonder.
Lead singer Alex Hurst’s vocals also seem to have come on in leaps and bounds too with “Cecil Succulent” and the utterly beguiling “Gentle Clovis” as stand out songs thanks to his soulful and forceful delivery. “Hats the Mandrill” is like a miniature microcosm of the album as a whole and neatly encapsulates everything on offer, it’s an amazing example of how to create forward momentum and interest in a song of dizzying complexity, it’s like hurtling down rapids in a small canoe piloted by a guide who is so utterly confident in his own ability he has a look of blissed out ignorance, whilst you are sitting slack jawed and trembling with awe.
It’s rare nowadays for a band to sound different from everything else out there. When you do hear it, it’s like a shot of adrenaline directly pumped into the heart and quite unexpected. This album is a glorious example of what happens when you follow your heart and go with what feels right, rather than what people think you should do, Family The Smiling Thrush absolutely does not pander to the masses and revels in its strange brilliance. It is not an instant hit of coffee, but more like an indulgently strong peanut butter sipping stout which turns out to be one of the best things you’ve ever tasted. Hugely recommended and I wouldn’t be surprised if this album sat atop many an album of the year lists. Stunning.