Surprise – Boston Manor are back. Desperate Times Desperate Pleasures is out in just two days, which is not nearly long enough to prepare given the intensity of the three singles so far. Today’s release, the almost-titular Desperate Pleasures, follows Algorithm and Carbon Mono to further fill out the microcosm of darkness that makes up the EP, and as per the title, heightens the atmosphere to a slow-burning fever pitch. The pace is painstakingly restrained, but Desperate Pleasures is as gripping as they come; emotional heaviness grinds against carefully constructed instrumentals to prepare us for Friday’s onslaught. We caught vocalist Henry Cox to talk about the Desperate Times the informed Desperate Pleasures.
It’s not been an easy ride through lockdown for Boston Manor – GLUE, ready and received as a career-defining release, didn’t get the live unleashing it deserved, and Boston Manor found themselves uncertain and uninspired. “It was really difficult,” Henry says. “All of 2020. We’d had all that time on the road so the obvious thing was to start writing songs, and there was a lot to talk about cos there was a lot of crazy shit happening and a lot of feelings to be digesting and internalising, but we just couldn’t materialise anything. We tried constantly, but nothing really came out that was very good or very succinct. And it was really frustrating cos particularly vocally, I had a lot that I wanted to say!”
The turning point, fittingly, was New Year’s Day. “Mike [Cunniff, guitarist] called me up and said I’ve got these three demos here, and I just went away and didn’t speak to them for a week and wrote these songs. I sent them back and everyone was really hyped on them, we were like, these just make sense. These are all really good. And what had been a really difficult process became a breeze, the songs just flew out of us. Sometimes these things snowball, but you can’t really rely on it, but once you’ve written a few good songs things can move quite quickly. I think we had eight songs ready to go, but we knew we wanted to write an EP and not a record – we need a bit of space away from albums, a bit of time to breathe. We went to the studio, but at the end of the session we knew something was missing… We needed a heavy ravey tune that we can come back and play live, so we got together and wrote Carbon Mono in an afternoon.”
Desperate Times Desperate Pleasures is an intently focused collection of songs, straight from the beating heart of Boston Manor – an outpouring of confidence in their own sound. So what is that sound? “I want it to be its own thing,” Henry tells us. “I want it to be something you can’t point to and stick us in a scene that was popular at the time, something that has its own identity. I think we’re getting there! It takes a while to find that, but I think we’re at the time now where we know what is us and what isn’t us. We have a lot more confidence now. I can start a song on synth that doesn’t sound anything like us, or Mike’ll start a song that particularly on this EP sounds like a different genre, but I get what he’s trying to evoke.”
“We trust each other to all have the same end goal. There’s nothing worse than everybody having a different idea in mind. It’s just the worst feeling – you know when you ride a bike and it won’t get in gear and you wiggle the pedals and it won’t click? That’s what it feels like. But fortunately now, nine times out of ten we’re all thinking the same thing.”
Desperate Times Desperate Pleasures is out on Friday.