One of the many joys of following a band over the years is watching their growth; hearing their sound change and evolve and see them embrace new challenges as songwriters and musicians. Wigan’s Boss Keloid are one such band. Emerging from the UK underground in 2010 with their promising debut Angular Beef Lesson, the quartet’s early sound was firmly in the stoner doom tradition. However, the past decade has seen the band digging deeper into ever proggier territory with each release, covering a multitude of genres to further expand and enhance their sound. Indeed, in a career trajectory similar to Elder, Boss Keloid are on a quest to constantly move forward and push their sound into previously unexplored terrain. So we come to Family The Smiling Thrush, the band’s fifth full length release to date, and a record that may just be their most accomplished piece of work thus far.
At times progressive rock and metal can fall heavily into the overly technical realm, losing emotional weight in favour of displaying skill, virtuosity and introspective improvisation. This is not the case with Boss Keloid, who on Family The Smiling Thrush place as much emphasis on emotive melody and hooks as they do on their quite masterful musicianship. Take the gorgeous soaring vocals on opener ‘Orang of Noyn’ and the life affirming, wide blue sky choruses of ‘Gentle Clovis’, this is genuine hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck stuff, euphoric and adrenaline surging. Subtle shades of early Jethro Tull and mid 70s Genesis can be heard here and there, especially in the trippier passages of ‘Cecil Succulent’ and the grandiose, intricate refrains of ‘Flatt Controller’, whilst the grungier, heavier passages of ‘Gentle Covis’ and off-kilter rhythms of ‘Grendle’ recall Seattle legends Soundgarden. The most striking aspect however, is just how wonderfully cohesive and mature this album sounds, with the band’s incredible songwriting and musicianship shining brightly on every track.
Having begun to shed their stoner sound and embrace their proggier side with 2018’s stellar Melted On The Inch, with Family The Smiling Thrush Boss Keloid’s move to the progressive realm feels complete. The guitars, though still huge, are a little less muddy than they have been in the past and there is a distinctively sharper emphasis on melody, rendering the album with an exceptionally uplifting feel. Fittingly released as spring moves into summer, Family The Smiling Thrush is the sound of the earth reawakening, of the clouds clearing and the sun warming the land once again. Embrace this album; or more importantly, let it embrace you.
Family The Smiling Thrush is out 4th June via Ripple Music and can be purchased here.
Words: Adam Pegg