BIG SPECIAL are all that and more on new EP ‘Black Country Gothic’
Q: What do you get when blistering content and flawless execution drink too much and wake up, naked, in the same bed?
A: Black Country Gothic by Big Special.
The Birmingham Duo’s new release is nothing short of epic. Following on from the working-class musical poets such as Sleaford Mods and IDLES, Big Special give us an EP crammed with thought bending lyrics so full of astute social and interpersonal reflections they could threaten the ego of the most accomplished poet.
Seriously though, lyrically, this release will leave no one but the most hardcore cynic wanting. With seeming ease front man, Big Joe (Joseph Hicklin), drops brilliant lines that make you feel like you’ve just woken up from some bizarre dream where you had all the right answers to questions you couldn’t hear. ‘Man is death’s dog,’ he tells us on SH!THOUSE, ‘you’ll spend your life nipping at his coattails and barking at the fog’. Fuck, that’s good shit. Listening I felt the feeling you feel when in the presence of someone who can do things you know you can’t. It’s the kind of lyricism that can’t be contrived or impersonated because the ideas behind them are so unique they could only have come from one person. Big Joe. His delivery too is great. Somewhere between a shout and a spit in a full Black Country accent, it harks to the great British punk of the late seventies.
This is all dandy – vocals are important – but to make it a band there needs to be more. Luckily, the production side of this duo is equally as skilled. If you can imagine a space somewhere between The Strokes and The Black Keys, you might be halfway to getting it. It’s rocky, it’s tight, it sounds just like it should. Not once did I sense a hint of anything but absolute professionalism. It swings all the right ways at all the right moments and best/most important of all, it creates a bed that allows the vocals to shine as bright as they can. Anything too complicated or dense would have taken away from this. Obviously Big special understand what they are trying to achieve, and that focus is evident on the recording.
Thematically Black Country Gothic hits all the right points you would expect from a band who claim to be ‘sending up a flare for working class music and poetry’. From the desire for fame, to the pressures of capitalism and wealth inequality, Big Special again prove that they are the real deal.
I don’t want to harp on about it, although I guess it is my job, so I’ll say this: Black Country Gothic really is a very good EP. The music is cool, and production is tight, and the lyrics carry with them a mysterious element, like a shadow in the fog, that makes me want to listen over and over again. I reckon maybe you will too. So, if you get the chance, go see them at Dead Wax Digbeth in Birmingham on November 12th.
For more info, check out Big Special on Facebook, Instagram or Youtube. If you enjoyed this, check out more reviews from IAMUR here… You might just find your new favourite artist!