The North-West is often mistaken for being synonymous with Manchester and that, unfortunately is not the case. Many cities and towns have seen a plethora of mediocre artists come and go in the area and it often feels like Blackburn, Chester and the likes will never create a real artist again. One city though that has a band to put them back on the map is Lancaster with their hometown heroes Massive Wagons. With three albums to their name so far, they’ve struggled to really breakthrough, but their latest release Full Nelson is making all sorts of noises across the industry and might finally be the album to take them to the big time.
The band, who I have to admit I hadn’t come across until late 2017, are ten year’s old now and have certainly done the rounds over the years. The one thing I’ve learnt from watching their Youtube videos and listening to all four records is that they’re a band that don’t take themselves too seriously and are in the business to bring the fun back to music.
Record opener “Under No Illusion” is a Queen-esque track that is nothing short of a rock n’ roll stomper (a theme of the album as a whole). The songwriting is exquisite, another asset that has been improved on Full Nelson compared to the previous albums. The opening song is about as “typical Massive Wagons” as you get, straight up rock music that warms the heart and soul; I’ve really struggling turning this one off since the record was released. Along with Sunshine Smile and Back to the Stack, there are some very strong rock songs on Full Nelson proving that the Lancaster band have honed their trade and are comfortable making this kind of music.
What I really love about this record though is how far Massive Wagons have strayed from their comfort zone. China Plates is a song about Facebook and is almost pop-rock/punk in style and will no doubt bring in a host of new fans. It’s an electric, catchy song that doesn’t fit in with the rest of the album but as a standalone, is excellent. It hits you so hard, and you forget you’re only two tracks into this stunning record by the time it ends.
When it does, the band charge into the standout of the entire album Billy Balloon Head, the best rock n’ roll song of the decade so far. Every listen of this tune leads to it getting better and better. It’s pure perfection as far as producing a song in this genre goes; from the belting vocal, to the refined guitar riffs, this is an outstanding track that I would run out of superlatives for should I continue!
Northern Boy slows things right down, but the 5:05min song is no damp squib and is actually a wonderfully crafted track. As I have come to love the track I find myself encapsulated in the lyrics and the vocals of Baz who is singing them. Being the only low-tempo track it has to standout otherwise it would risk being forgotten – thank god that it does then and is a track that deserves to be on repeat. Writing this review right now I am finding myself get even more excited about just how special it is and how important to the genre.
Back to the Stack hits you right where you want to be hit by rock music and Hate Me is another track where you cling onto every last word yelled out of Baz’s mouth. The two tracks may be lost on some who are stuck with the first three tracks on repeat but they are great additions all the same and are far from album fillers. The two closing tracks Ratio and Tokyo add, and build on the superb foundations laid before them and provide two final record highlights. Ratio I anticipate will be the most underrated track on the album but the chord progressions in it and Tokyo are so huge they almost overshadow everything that has preceded it!
I am in total awe of Massive Wagons and Full Nelson. This isn’t a gimmicky album and whilst the band are in the business to have fun and make good music, this is actually an album that is so important I don’t even think they realise it themselves yet. The genre is in decline when it comes to fresh new artists coming through and without a platform, the few that do try rarely make it. No Massive Wagons aren’t a new band but Full Nelson could provide the break that (a) they deserve (b) rock n’ roll needs and (c) new bands wanting to make this music need. Huge huge credit to the Lancaster band who have given us the album of 2018 with Full Nelson.
Go and pick up a copy of the album of the year right here http://fullnelson.earache.com/