I seem to have arrived rather late to the Boxer party given that this their third release. Their struggles with collapsing labels and band member illness is already well documented but does point to a band that has determination to overcome hurdles thrown in their path
There is some real momentum around this fine album – a slot on US network tv courtesy of the Letterman show, top 40 album status within 24 hours to name but two things.
I came to this through the excellent streaming of the album from KCRW (why no such services over here?) and it immediately had that ‘something’ for me. Without trying to pigeonhole the band or their music they occupy the same emotional space for me as do Elbow and The National
The album, released on their own label Absentee Recordings, was produced by Ethan Jones who has done great job, loads of space around the sound, great clarity around the vocals and instruments for a collection of songs that might have sounded cramped and dense in lesser hands. The ten song set has a sense of unity to it, a purposefulness to the whole kit and caboodle, no fillers and an impulse and momentum that runs throughout, even with the more introspective tracks. Apparently much was recorded ‘live’ with very few over-dubs and there us great sense of tightness here that bodes well for live show and I look forward to the London Heaven show in a few weeks
There isn’t a duff song here to my ears though of course single Step Out of the Car is a standout song but so too are tracks like Caught in the Light and Both Sides are Even. The playing throughout is exemplary and Nathan Nicholson’s vocals have a remarkable clarity and quality to them, almost euphoric on occasions
To be honest this is an album I can’t stop playing, a triumph and the first musical obsession of the year and a source of joy for what is proving to be testing time right now
Step Out of the Car – The Boxer Rebellion