The Boxer Rebellion, a multi-national four-piece based in London, are about to deliver their third studio album. That’s right, most people wouldn’t even know of their prior six year existence. They’re a band that have received acclaim outside of the mainstream while not really forcing themselves onto your radio. But with TheCold Still that is all likely to change.
With their previous two studio efforts The Boxer Rebellion have proved themselves a gifted guitar rock quartet. Big riffs. Big choruses. A tasty recipe for good music. They have held esteemed company on film soundtracks (The Football Factory with Razorlight, The Libertines and The Buzzcocks) and toured in support of Editors, Lenny Kravitz and Gary Numan, all while staying deep below most peoples radars.
Cold Still revs things up from the opening with the bands trademark rock sound. Scratch that, Cold Still starts at the very opposite end of the musical spectrum. ‘No Harm’ is vast music at its most minimalist. The drums run the show with the piano playing its part to hold things together. It sounds very, Noah and the Whale The First Days of Spring-esq. The harmonies are imperfect and seem to have been sculpted that way which really help the band to keep aspects of their rough and readiness.
Second track, ‘Step Out of the Car’ is all about that guitar. It has that southern American rock tinge. This already feels like an album from a band that have evolved and advanced over the two years since Union. The sound is tight and more controlled with a notably more intelligent turn in the song writing. The most impressive thing about this manly, guitar driven rock band’s sound is the almost emasculated vocals of front man Nathan Nicholson, which are now very reminiscent of Wild Beasts‘ Hayden Thorpe.
The album then takes a step back into nu-indie-folk territory with ‘Locked in the Basement’. This track, like the opener, is beautiful but it is key in unmasking this albums one flaw. It fluctuates from these softer tracks which have been influenced brilliantly by recent popular music habits and the bands more habitual guitar leanings. Unfortunately this causes an album that is packed with quality to stutter and lose its drive. Momentum isn’t given a chance to build when you’re going from zero to eleven and back again every five or so minutes.
This album is clearly the beginning in the shaping of the band that The Boxer Rebellion are to become. The previous two albums are truly their history where as this is the start of a bright future. With tracks like ‘Organ Song’ and ‘Memo’ clearly taking influence from the recent success of bands such as The National and British Sea Power, The Boxer Rebellion are growing their own music into what will become an innate spectacle of eclectic talent.
It may not be the ‘perfect’ album, but all of the tracks are near flawless in their own way. So if you’re just coming to The Boxer Rebellion, start here. Sure, go back and appreciate their history but strap yourself in for an eventful and successful future.
From Rhys Morgan.