From brilliant to bland...
The Boxer Rebellion are thumping Brit Rock with some of the heaviest bass lines I've heard present in this type of music. Reminiscent of The Verve prominently on first track 'Flight' with a dash of the Smashing Pumpkins, it's interesting music that engages the mind Listening to The Boxer Rebellion is like watching Slint play, at first you sit in silence trying to figure out where it's going patiently, but then you are waiting for something to reach out and grab you.
'All you have to do is talk' is slightly higher powered, with a vocalist that reminds me of Cedric of The Mars Volta, the vocals in this band rather than create the melody, contradict the ones the bass and guitars create. This song is gritty and ends very abruptly to lead us into the cascading melodies of 'We have this place surrounded'. This is a very tranquil and serene song, echoing effects on the vocals and guitar work so that in some way this track is almost hypnotic. In a way reminds me of U2 on the Joshua Tree, but on the level that this band could someday create a record that great someday soon.
Suddenly this CD takes another turn as dance drum beats start on 'Watermelon'. With electro effects present on the guitar, it's like listening to a calmer Head Automatica mixed with 'Girls and Boys' era Blur with a dash of Nirvanas sloppy 'grunge' guitar work. Hard to wrap your head around? You bet.
'The New heavy' is a fast paced Kasabian -esque track but still with that grunge element, with rough sounding production( the kind that sounds so much better than over produced bubble wrapped rock that we hear on the radio everyday), this leads perfectly into the acoustic 'World without end'. Now I'm not the biggest fan of acoustic songs when they're this bare and simple, littering it with piano and strings towards the end does not save this, so this track though not terrible was hard to sit through for me as it became really boring and samey by the end of its 4.15 track time, skip it. This band can do better.
'Never knowing how or why' is an uplifting track, such a relief after the acoustic burble before, the plucky guitars and scattered drumbeats are totally refreshing and invigorating. If Coldplay were ever in a joyful mood, they'd probably sound like this. 'Lay me down', on the other hand, is a very Coldplay-esque song with long drawn out vocals, pretty sounding guitars and the repetitive drum beats so signature to Chris Martin and co, so I begin to feel I've heard this song a hundred times before. 'Cowboys and engineers' takes us back to how the album started off- Kasabian-esque with a dash of grunge once more I begin to feel this band are ripping off other bands and trying to pass it off as their own. It's disappointing as after tracks like 'Watermelon' and 'All you have to do is talk' we are aware this band have a very distinctive style they can achieve on their own and that maybe one day other bands may want to try and rip them off.
Final track 'The absentee' starts off being very dreary until about the mid point of the song, then it lifts slightly as the tempo is raised and the pace quickens slightly, this isn't the best song on the album, sub par Coldplay at best, but a fair enough choice to end the album on.
This album is one for people with a very specific taste, I'd like not be able to lump this band into one genre but due to the blatant Coldplay rips and Kasabian clone songs I'd have to say this is chart pop-rock fodder. Some tracks on this album will engage even the most close minded however, most will send the liveliest of us into a sleepy haze because lets face it we've all heard plenty of bands from the much revered school of Coldplay. This CD gets of to a smashing start, but then like so many before it fades off into bland obscurity.