Review: Blaenavon – ‘That’s Your Lot’
Today is a good day, because 1) it’s the weekend—TGIf, folks—and 2) Hampshire, England-based Blaenavon is dropping their debut album. That’s Your Lot, via Transgressive and Canvasback, is produced by Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Adele) and is five years in the making.
Blaenavon released a few EPs after their very first single “Into The Night” hit ears all the way back in 2013. Since then, fanbase and anticipation for the trio’s debut LP have been steadily growing.
“That’s Your Lot is five years of our lives condensed into 59 minutes of yours,” said singer/guitarist Ben Gregory in a press release about the album. “Youth, capriciousness, duality, duplicity, love, bitterness, fate. Songs from the human core: some malleable, long considered—others pure, direct, cruelly honest. An album to bathe in and appreciate the inevitable end.”
“Take Care” serves as an upbeat introduction to the band if you haven’t met their sound before. They’ve performed it live a lot, and if the energy in the recording is any indication, the live version must be a party.
“Let’s Pray” takes you on a heavy lyrical journey. While the words may be somber, the refreshing honesty and energetic sounds come together in a balance of emotions. After belting out a few rounds of the words “let’s pray for death,” the band draws you into a chorus of “ooh’s” that will have you singing along in no time.
“Orthodox Man” may be the third track on That’s Your Lot, but it’s Number One in our hearts and hotbed of catchy melodies. Get ready for a groove of a bass line, because its presence is felt throughout the whole song. The repetitive lyrics in the chorus add to the catchy factor—it’s no wonder the band released it as a single. It definitely got us all pumped for the rest of the album.
From one headbanger to another, we move into “My Bark Is Your Bite.“ The guitar riff from the kickoff sticks with you and makes this song another contender for catchiest track. Conceptually, it’s also a winner. Gregory sings of lying because his “mind says it’s the best thing to do.”
In “Lonely Side,” the vocals hit immediately, and “in a land of parasites” is one of the first lyrical phrases you hear. Heavy. The chord progression reflects the mood with its minor emphasis, and though it starts out somber, it brightens up with the addition of vocals and synth.
It’s clear from the first few seconds of “Let Me See What Happens Next” that it’s going to pull on your heartstrings. Gregory’s vocals and a piano: that’s all you get, but that’s all you need. Simple chord progression, piano arrangement, vocal lines and harmonies—it works. In the midst of fully produced, guitar-heavy, percussive tracks, it’s nice to have a piano ballad to mix it up and provide a point of rest.
I’m a sucker for any song with a person’s name in it, so when I saw “Alice Come Home” on the list, I immediately began romanticizing. It builds slowly and launches after the first minute or so. Gregory switches his vocal style from airy to belting and back again to provide a rollercoaster of a song that’s dynamic and fun to follow.
“Ode to Joe” can only be described as “eerie,” a tone accomplished with a piano and what I’m picturing as a damp, dark echo chamber.
“I Will Be The World” has punctuating vocals that match the precision of the drums. The track escalates, forming one of the heavier rock song of the album and proving the trio’s range.
“Prague ‘99” suggests a trip around the world as well as back in time, and the song takes you on a high-energy run and into a room of groove. From the top, an intricate guitar riff is introduced, and then driving rhythms from the drums and more guitars are added to fill the landscape.
“Swans” is a lullaby with a dark side. It makes use of the eight minutes with a slow but steady build up to hard-hitting percussion and layered guitars.
Closing out, the title track, “That’s Your Lot,” rests at the very end. The band carries their less-than-sunny outlook to this melodic farewell, musing “I’m part cloth and part man.”