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Sister Ray's Mercury Prize Picks: Oli

Hi all, Oli here to follow up Eric's favourite nominee in Sister Ray's 2021 Mercury Prize Picks with my personal choice. 

I've chosen the debut album by Black Country, New Road, 'For The First Time'.  
Emerging from a tidal wave of hype and following rave reviews for their stunning live shows, 'For The First Time' is a mighty beast of an opening statement from the Cambridge seven-piece.
Having followed this group from an early gig in 2019, seeing the progression of these tracks has been a thrilling experience and this resulting record is nothing short of breathtaking. 

From the fervent opening klezmer jam of 'Instrumental', to the subdued, minimalist-inspired 'Track X' then closing with the night and day dynamic shifts of 'Opus', 'For The First Time' astounds and pleases at every turn. At once being a powerful juggernaut of sound but combined with a delicate beauty, this duality is what, to me, sets Black Country, New Road apart from many of their contemporaries. The punches hit harder and the softer moments glimmer with grace and elegance that only an experienced group of musicians could pull off.

I feel like the album is deserving of the Mercury win as with it, Black Country, New Road have done the almost unthinkable. They have made a relevant, exciting and singular debut that could fit into the "rock" genre in 2021. Whilst there are many imitating, there is nobody out there like Black Country, New Road and there is no recent debut I can think of quite like 'For The First Time'. 

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