Big Special – Postindustrial Hometown Blues

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Post-punk has been making its mark on the UK for several years now, a scene spearheaded by the likes of IDLES, Shame, and Soft Play (FKA Slaves), and it comes as no surprise – with an abundance of reasons to want to rebel and a multitude of grievances to express, the conditions are ripe for the genre’s resurgence. Big Special fill a gap in the market for the genre, offering a voice from the perspective of the Midlands, and their debut album, Postindustrial Hometown Blues, firmly establishes the duo in the scene. 

Album opener ‘Black Country Gothic’ is a heartfelt tribute to the band’s heritage. Through a lively combination of dancing synth work and a catchy beat, the track manages to capture the essence of the Black Country in a celebratory manner. Not only does the track set the tone for the rest of the album, but it also spotlights the incredible versatility in Joe Hicklin’s vocals as they seamlessly transition from spoken word verses, filled with deep meaning and passion, to powerful and soulful melodies that keep listeners captivated. 

‘I Mock Joggers’ is a prime example of the multifaceted talent that Big Special possess. The duo use their humour to shed light on their insecurities, employing self-deprecating humour to deliver a message that is both relatable and poignant. Whilst on its surface its words appear to be mocking joggers, the true meaning runs much deeper, revealing a sense of vulnerability expressing that the reason for the mocking may stem from a place of insecurity, as witty lyrics highlight this internal struggle: “I mock joggers because I’m insecure about my weight. I should be out running but I’m always running away or running late.”

‘My Shape (Blocking The Light)’ takes the album down a darker turning, a distorted instrumental compliments spoken word, creating a moment of intense vulnerability. The track paints an honest, raw depiction of life with depression, the duo’s lyrics also acknowledge the societal attitudes that often worsen this experience, pointing out the callousness of higher-ups who only care for their interests. ‘Black Dog / White Horse’ then carries on this theme, juxtaposing depression (the black dog) with this image of hope and strength (the white horse), its lyrics providing a powerful message of resilience, offering a reminder that even in the darkest moments, there is always a glimmer of hope to hold onto. 

Closer ‘DiG!’ further embeds this sense of hope and inspiration. The track is an uplifting and euphoric call to action, urging listeners not to let the government get them down. With its stirring and motivating lyrics, ‘DiG!’ is a goosebump-worthy track that encourages its audience to rise and take charge of their lives. 

With Postindustrial Hometown Blues, Big Special recognise the impact of capitalism on society. Through its 15 tracks, the band doesn’t offer solutions to the problems caused but instead, the album provides a therapeutic listening experience, coming across as a sincere attempt to let their listeners know they are seen and heard. 

Lasting Appeal

Katie Macbeth

katie macbeth

Katie Macbeth is a freelance music journalist for Indie Is Not A Genre based out of Manchester, presenter of @drunktankthink, and post punk enthusiast.

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