Album Review


A dizzying mix of hard and delicate.


Regardless of standing on the political spectrum, there’s no denying that right now the state of Britain is a dire one, and of late there’s been no shortage of bands willing to call it out, from the gritty grime punk poetry of Bob Vylan to the fed-up lamentations of Sleaford Mods. Black Country duo BIG SPECIAL now follow in their footsteps, their lyrics and themes tackling issues from class warfare and mental health to addiction and working jobs you hate. A glance over the tracklist lends an idea as to the content: titles like ‘I MOCK JOGGERS’, ‘SHITHOUSE’ and ‘DESPERATE BREAKFAST’ may paint a dreary, bitter picture, but nothing can compare to the power of the songs themselves. Louder and more volatile than a bomb but furnished with the stark poetry of John Cooper Clarke, it’s a dizzying mix of hard and delicate.

Even in its quietest moments – like the a cappella ‘MONGREL’ – Joe Hicklin’s vocal delivery crackles with a furious optimism paradoxically borne of hopelessness: “Yonder I see a hill to die on, or is that just a grass verge where lies the dog turd of life?” ‘THIS HERE AIN’T WATER’ best summarises BIG SPECIAL’s appeal, a contorting and deft number that switches between rugged rants and soulful crooning while Callum Moloney’s drums match him at every turn. This isn’t an album or band that will hit everyone the same right away, but given half a chance, they’ll find a way within these 15 tracks to win over anybody. ‘POSTINDUSTRIAL HOMETOWN BLUES’ is not the soothing salve for a country tearing itself apart. Instead, it is the molotov cocktail and lighter threatening to ignite the people into taking action.

Tags: BIG SPECIAL, Reviews, Album Reviews

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