‘Swans’, the second to last song on Blaenavon’s debut ‘That’s Your Lot’ was written when Ben Gregory was 16. Just having celebrated his 21st, the record embodies everything about those five years, the most formative of the Hampshire trio’s lives.
‘That’s Your Lot’ is long. It’s seconds away from breaking the hour mark, in fact. This indulgence can be afforded in this instance - it’s an album that’s taken a heck of a long time, and is impeccably considered and thought through as a result.
The album shows Blaenavon as a band of two sides - the huge, hook-laden singles ‘Let’s Pray’ and ‘Orthodox Man’ float their way into the creepy, complex ‘Ode To Joe’ and the heartbreaking ‘Let Me See What Happens Next’ with frightening confidence, the band so assured about every twist and turn the album takes that it works.
In their singles, Blaenavon have taken leads from every band they grew up listening to. The intricate playfulness of The Maccabees and Bombay Bicycle Club is in the fabric of ‘Prague ‘99’ and ‘Orthodox Man’, all while creating a world of their own. There’s little doubt that Blaenavon will be held in similar regard to their predecessors in the near future.
“I can’t throw away the reminders of those brilliant days/a stamp, a receipt, if it feels like it keeps you here,” Ben sings at the album’s crushing finale, and though Blaenavon can’t cling onto the five years that are poured into ‘That’s Your Lot’ anymore, they’ve created a huge, rich, brilliant documentation of youth, one which will last for years.