On their sophomore album Ants From Up There, the band Black Country, New Road paints vivid imagery from giddy infatuation to paralyzing despair. Lead singer Isaac Wood acts as a nervous and hesitant anti-hero who has stumbled into the spotlight. Dense orchestration and rattling rhythms characterize Wood’s every anxiety, as he wallows in his own self deprecation and pity. Third track “Concorde” features Wood articulating his longing for a significant other through bittersweet metaphors and wordplay.
Concorde this organ
The new one I’m forming
It has grown so persistent on you
By the morning, I’d fell to my feet
And the doctor said, “We are unfortunately”
Running out of options to treat”
What a funny way to speak
Throughout the song, Wood refers to the Concorde fallacy: when British and French governments continued to fund the Concorde aircraft even after it became apparent there was no longer an economic case for it. He compares his unwillingness to give up on an unreciprocated relationship to the UK and French governments’ unwillingness to abandon the Concorde project.
Specifically, the line “We are unfortunately running out of options to treat” implies that Wood has tried time and time again to move on from his lover. By comparing the feeling of yearning to a cancerous tumor taking over a body, Isaac shows the powerlessness he feels towards his own affection. Like the Concorde project, it is something that is weighing him down, yet something he continues to pursue.
And you, like Concorde
I came, a gentle hill racer
I was breathless
Upon every mountain
Just to look for your light
Through comparing his loved one to a Concorde plane, Wood conveys the hopelessness of being so fond of someone, that you would sprint up a mountain just to get a brief glimpse of them—like a plane flying by and glinting momentarily in the sun. Although beautiful, the image contains a pang of negativity. From the point of view of a Concorde flying far overhead, the “gentle hill racer” is insignificant, or even invisible. Far in the sky, Wood’s lover sees him as merely an ant from up there—a callback to the title of the album.
Concorde, I miss you
Don’t text me ’til winter
I can hardly afford
A second summer of Splinters
This staircase, it leads only to
Some old pictures of you
Through a thousand mile long tube
Hey, what’s a city boy to do?
Wood is well aware of the dependency he has on his ‘Concorde’—he even begs them to not get his hopes up, not even a text. He describes climbing up a spiral staircase to look at photos of this person with such compulsive regularity that he’s constantly getting splinters from the journey. Self awareness can’t help Wood, he is well aware of the pain ‘Concorde’ has caused him.
But for less than a moment
We’d share the same sky
And then Isaac will suffer
Concorde will fly
For less than a moment, ‘Concorde’ notices Issac. The song comes to a climax as Wood describes just how much importance he has placed on this small moment. On the other hand, ‘Concorde’ will hardly remember it. Wood’s suffering will go unnoticed as an unphased ‘Concorde’ continues on.