Blaenavon have returned with their second, beautifully poignant offering Everything That Makes You Happy and the response thus far appears nothing but supportive.
Releasing their debut That’s Your Lot in 2017, transgressive indie trio Ben Gregory (vocals), Frank Wright (bass) and Harris McMillan (drums) gained their rightful position alongside label-mate greats Foals, Two Door Cinema Club and Marika Hackman whilst touring widely to captivated crowds.
“Ben draws intricately on his recent challenges through the album”
Yet, the past couple of years between releases have been far from easy for the band. Always one to be open about his battles with his mental health, Ben draws intricately on his recent challenges through the album, taking his listeners along on the emotional expedition of his stress-induced breakdowns and consequential hospitalisation.
Opening with one of the lead singles ‘I Want You’, Ben’s distinctive vocals chill the listener with his enunciation of the chorus. ‘Catatonic Skinbag’ follows with the self-depreciative ‘I’m the last man that I’d ever date’ whilst the equally (somewhat paradoxically) upbeat ‘F***ing Up My Friends’ paints the familiar longing to be ‘enough for you and everyone else’.
‘It is this […] ‘relatability’ that accelerates the impact of Blaenavon’s music further’
Undeniably an emotionally-charged body of work, it is this (excuse the Gen Z cliché) ‘relatability’ that accelerates the impact of Blaenavon’s music further. Its discussion of ‘binge-watching’ a box-set in bed for escapism rather than seeking support or feeling so low about our appearance that this fuels a self-obsession that ‘even Narcissus would gawp at’ I am sure, at least partially, resonates with us all.
“A stand-out point for me personally was track number 4 ‘The Song’s Never Gonna Be The Same’”
Whilst listening through the album initially upon midnight release, a stand-out point for me personally was track number 4 ‘The Song’s Never Gonna Be The Same’. This song perfectly preserves how being so deeply in love can alter the manner in which you view the world. Furthermore, the home recordings of bird song at the end of ‘Back This Year’ contributed to the heart-felt intimacy the band have so cleverly constructed.
Announcing the release date within the same week of the album drop, the band put out a message on social media, including these powerful words of encouragement from Ben: ‘I know many of you have been struggling with your mental health but I can promise you that time heals all and everything WILL be alright.’
“The album’s raw honesty reminds us of what it means to be human”
Ultimately, the album’s raw honesty reminds us of what it means to be human, detailing the highs as well as the greatest lows of humanity. Ben paints a normalised view of our struggling through his candid portrayal of its collective nature, drawing on his own experiences to carve this intimate safe-space for the in-love, lonely, heartbroken or happy listener.
Quite frankly, it feels impossible to listen through Everything That Makes You Happy and leave with the same mindset.I can already tell that I am going to find myself repeatedly reaching for it.
“This album is completely unmissable”
This album is completely unmissable.
Featured image courtesy of Blaenavon Official Facebook Page.
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