For the first time

by Black Country, New Road

Released February 5, 2021 via Ninja Tune

Reviewed February 15, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Sunglasses (73%), Opus (65%), Science Fair (43%)

Black Country, New Road—the seven-piece experimental rock/post-punk/post-rock band from London—have built a reputation as one of the most exciting young bands through their unique, immersive, intimate, and often-improvised live performances. Their debut album, For the first time, captures this sound in a way that feels as equally perfected as it does organic, combining avant-garde and free-form jazz elements with the raucous energy and spirit of punk music. The band’s ever-shifting sound makes for an exhilarating listen as infectious grooves give way to explosive bridges and unpredictability reigns supreme. Combined with rich and abstract storytelling, frontman Isaac Wood’s powerful and emotive performances transform and give life to even the most seemingly mundane of topics. – Dominick (10/10)


Having been absent for its tentative two-year buildup, I was uncertain For the first time would hit me as hard as it had for others and if it would live up to the hype. However, the debut from fresh faces Black Country, New Road is a masterpiece of unabated intuition and skill. It does hit hard. Filled to the brim with technical, meditative post-rock and experimental rock elements, For the first time embroils seven deadly sins—guitar, bass, violin, saxophone, drums, keys, and vocals—bringing a broth of broken, twisted odysseys that sonically cohere pretty well, but still feel disconnected thematically. You can tell it has been written and recorded over a long period of time. What makes this record hard to criticise is that it’s appealing in almost every other way; the intricate and angular performances that are simultaneously groovy (a la black midi or Sons Of Kemet), the sinister vibrato spouting ominous narratives of betrayal and building rage, the building of tension, especially on “Science Fair” and “Sunglasses.” And while the overall structures of certain songs seem accidentally tumultuous, they’ve nailed jazz-accented math rock. For the first time proves Black Country, New Road can make one of the best albums of this upcoming decade, if they haven’t already. – Cam (9/10)


2021 has been a rather quiet year for music so far, but Black Country, New Road’s debut album exploded onto the scene in proper fashion. Debuts are generally for finding an identity and tend to be a stepping stone to better things, but this group has their vision down to a science right from the gate. This young group of forward-thinking musicians blend math rock, post-rock, post-punk, experimental, and even traditional Klezmer music to create a musical whirlwind unlike anything since Black Midi’s debut, whom they even reference in the lyrics. It’s genuinely overwhelming the amount of stuff going on in certain sections, but it is a controlled chaos where the group has total reign over this tsunami of sonic clashes. This is a stunning debut from a confident group of up-and-coming musicians who have the world at their grasp right now. – Jared (9/10)


For the first time is the aptly titled debut album from London post-punk/experimental rock seven-piece Black Country, New Road, a band that has kept the music world eagerly on the edge of their seats in anticipation over the last two years or so. Singles such as 2019's “Sunglasses,” and 2021’s “Track X,” built resounding hype in the lead up to the album’s eventual arrival. The opening instrumental is like Radiohead's “Street Spirit” and Unwound's “Terminus” coming together and culminating in a Slav squat jubilee. If that sounds strange, it is because the music ties together a myriad of different sounds, concepts, and geographical character, making it difficult to pin down a concrete tag. It is as if the band has assimilated world music while remaining undeniably British. Add Black Country, New Road to the list of prodigious acts from the burgeoning British scene, which includes the likes of King Krule, black midi, Shame, Squid, and so many more. These acts are the front-runners for the most promising, and in some ways, most important acts of recent years. – Peter (8/10)


Dominick: 10/10 | Cam: 9.3/10 | Jared: 9/10 | Enth: 8.5/10 | Hadley: 8.5/10

Peter: 8.5/10 | Alan: 8.4/10 | Pax: 7.9/10