Creatively titled “New Album” is the first of three full-length Boris records (and one shared LP with Merzbow) so far this year; and, living up to its name, New Album sticks out like a sore thumb in a sea of happy, healthy thumbs that make up Boris’ back catalogue. All traces of Boris’ position as one of the world’s leading noise bands are totally shunned to make way for a melody-heavy, shoegaze, almost Visual Kei record. Yes, it’s a “New Album”, as this is unlike anything Boris has ever done and likely will ever do again.
Every song sounds totally different. There’s ballads, the hardstyle-influenced techno, straight J-Rock; and no drone. Forgive me for preoccupying over that, but the idea of a Boris album without noise is like Brokencyde without awful – it just doesn’t happen. It hasn’t happened, and it never will happen. At least, I thought it never would. This isn’t to say it’s a bad record, just unexpected.
I can dwell upon how different New Album is, or, I can shut up and review it. Boris sound like a band that, after nearly twenty years of having crafted their own ground in the music world, slipped, fell, hit their head, had a laugh about it, and released an album in hindsight. This is the product. The fact that it is one of four released in the space of three months emphasizes just how little time must have gone into the production – instead, it seems like their tongue was firmly in their cheek while they laughed at themselves quietly.
That being said, I don’t want to give anyone the impression that this is a bad record. Because that’s not true. New Album is Boris saying to the world “Hey, yeah, we can play drone, but look what else we can do too!”. And while it’s a huge departure from their usual formula, it’s nice to hear a band break away from expectations every now and again, especially when the expectations are so firmly rooted into one broad genre (no, not as broad as “rock”, I just didn’t know a better way to put it).
Boris’ New Album is just that. New. Once again a veteran band thwarts all expectations of them, presenting themselves in a totally different light. Will it stick? Well, after listening to its two successors (“Attention Please” and “Heavy Rocks”), no. Boris are doing what they do best. But if you can’t get yourself into the noisy goodness of Boris’ traditional style, New Album would be a good place to start. It’s nothing that unique in the grand scheme of things, but for Boris, it’s the white elephant.