A quick reading of the pass notes makes it clear the Boxers have paid their dues; their short career is littered with health emergencies and binned recording sessions. Anxious twelve hour operations and career disruptions have all been their lot – in the least of their worries, the promo tour for this very album has just been put on hold due to laryngitis. Such stuff makes for good press releases but good records? Well on first impressions yes, because with Flight they may well have the best album opener since 'A New Decade' on the Verve’s 'A Northern Soul'. As soon as Nathan Nicholson** starts sneering "You, you’re always looking at me…" over a menacing bass riff he practically has you staring at your pint to avoid eye contact with the stereo.
It’s not the only favourable comparison with Ashcroft & co’s mid-nineties masterpiece; the atmospheric interplay of distorted bass and layered guitars help to focus a bevy of balls-out rock songs – 'Watermelon' in particular captures an urgency that the likes of BRMC would kill for. Crucially though, they display the lyrical intelligence you’d expect from a band named after a 1900 Chinese anti-Western uprising and utilise more than just fuzz-rock to do so.
Because the ‘other’ Boxer Rebellion write the kind of moving slowies that have fields full of people reaching for their lighters and, thank Christ, they don’t feel they have to emulate Coldplay to do it. 'We have this Place Surrounded' and 'Lay Me Down' could be described as post-rock with lyrics and do draw on that band we’re not going to mention – particularly 'Cowboys and Engines' with its guitar led 'My Iron Lung'-isms – but while it’s easy to pull out comparisons it’s important to say that the result is more than the sum of it’s influences.
You could argue that we’ve heard this sort of thing before and we have, but if you like your rock clever and fuzzy then you could do a lot worse, especially as there’s plenty of stuff on here to which, given the right circumstances, you might soon be able to apply the words ‘surprise,’ ‘crossover’ and ‘hit.’ Which should at least help with the medical bills.
8John Winters's Score