Blaenavon – ‘That’s Your Lot’ Review

Score

Long-time-coming debut album that hints at great things to come

Blaenavon have always had time on their side, which is just as well, because they’ve taken rather a lot of it to release their debut album. The Hampshire trio first announced themselves way back in 2013, when they put out a debut single (‘Into The Night’) before they’d even sat their A Levels. The intervening years saw the release of three more EPs, yet a full album remained frustratingly elusive. Their first attempt at recording one, for which they hunkered down on a houseboat with an endless supply of wine and an apparent dearth of direction, was rejected by their label, who told them they weren’t taking it seriously enough.

You certainly couldn’t say the same of their second attempt, the winking irreverence of its title notwithstanding: ‘That’s Your Lot’ is serious business indeed. “Let’s pray for death,” frontman Ben Gregory urges on ‘Let’s Pray’, whose Morrisseyan fatalism is suitably complemented by jangling currents of Marr-like guitar, and which sets the tone for much of what follows. On ‘Lonely Side’ – a lithe indie-funk outlier whose pervasive gloom proves oddly infectious – Gregory declares himself a host “in a land of parasites”. By the time he pins his sad-lad colours to the mast on the album’s title track, beseeching the listener to “pity me, I beg you please… I’m an apathetic pipsqueak”, you’re tempted to applaud his honesty.

You shouldn’t mistake their dysphoric outlook for a lack of backbone, however: this band are at their best when they go big, as on the explosive ‘Prague ‘99’ (a re-recording of the standout track from their 2013 ‘Koso’ EP) or the eight-minute ‘Swans’, both of which display a knack for post-rock dynamics and, especially, volume. It’s taken Blaenavon longer than expected to get to this point, but they’re still only at the end of the beginning; ‘That’s Your Lot’ isn’t the instant-classic debut they might have hoped for, but it delivers on their early promise, and offers tantalising hints at where they might go from here.