Black Country's Joe Hicklin (lead vocals) and Callum Moloney (drums) are the dynamic duo known as Big Special. You may have noticed their politically charged album title pays homage to Bob Dylan’s single ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’. You’ll be right in thinking, like Dylan, their debut album has something to say.

In a recent interview, we found out Big Special attended the same music college as The Streets. It’s hard to believe ‘Original Pirate Material’ was released over 2 decades ago. It has been a long while, since we’ve heard something as poignant as Mike Skinners project. With a creative link established, we were pleased to hear its influence on Big Special’s debut album. Along with the Arctic Monkeys’, Joe echoes Skinners’ sharp and direct delivery of his lyrics telling stories of British working-class life and struggles as well as Alex Turner’s humour and wordplay.

Big Special could be christened the Anarchic Monkeys, as realism is subverted into the surreal on the opening track ‘Black Country Gothic’. The phenomenal power of this album is how progressive they sound. ‘I Mock Joggers’, ‘Desperate Breakfast’ and ‘Butcher’s Bin’ are a few examples of how this simply isn’t an average post rock album, as each song sounds like a 21st century punk-meets-experimental sermon.

‘Postindustrial Hometown Blues’, as quoted by Joe, “is an album about depression. It's about the different shapes it takes; personal, social, generational... and it's about coming face to face with those ghosts and what we do or how we feel when that happens”.

Bipolar emotions run high, as years of frustration and toil are heard loud and clear. Profane and catchy, ‘Shithouse’ is dementedly delivered in exasperated and exhilarating fashion. Extreme lows are captured by Joe’s honest lyrics like “embrace the malaise” from ‘This Here Ain’t Water’, and conveyed through his journal prose lullaby on ‘My Shape (Blocking The Light)’. ‘Mongrel’ is a truly suffocating example of what anxiety sounds like.

‘Postindustrial Hometown Blues’ comments on the state of the country and the band’s own personal difficulties. We are a generation with unparalleled levels of anxiety and depression, after all. Not only do they deal with internal struggles, they make it clear they have experienced external societal problems that affect us all. Powerfully put on ‘Dust Off / Start Again’, as Joe remarks “the poets and the artists now work in the banks, the radicals have spare rooms and paired socks”. As the album winds down, with the exception of infectiously fun ‘Trees’, the downbeat nature of the subject matter on ‘For The Birds’ and ‘DiG’ gives you pause for thought.

Some of the imagery on the record is bleak, yet there is a beauty to it. Take it from us, you can hear an entire generation pressed into the fabric of the album. It's bitingly raw for our times.

Track list:
1. Black Country Gothic
2. I Mock Joggers
3. Desperate Breakfast
4. Shithouse
5. This Here Ain’t Water
6. My Shape (Blocking The Light)
7. Black Dog / White Horse
8. Broadcast: Time Away
9. Ill
10. Mongrel
11. Butcher’s Bin
12. Dust Off / Start Again
13. Trees
14. For The Birds
15. Dig!