You’ve GOT to Hear This: The Boxer Rebellion – “Ocean By Ocean”

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The Boxer Rebellion
The Boxer Rebellion’s
previous album Promises proved to be a creative peak for the multi-national band when it was released back in 2013. The record offered a potent mix of arena-sized anthems full of drama, huge choruses and memorable hooks fulfilling the artistic potential of earlier albums with its melodic consistency. There isn’t a weak track on the record and it provides a truly immersive experience, showcasing the band’s innate ability to craft incredibly atmospheric melodies around their hauntingly sophisticated lyrics. An extensive international tour including a roasting support slot in London’s Hyde Park with The Rolling Stones followed but the band’s loyal fanbase inexplicably did not expand in the same way that the album’s direction had. In 2014 Todd Howe left to pursue other interests and Andrew Smith took over guitar duties, resulting in fan predictions that a further change in direction would be taken as the band began working on new material. Well, the new record Ocean By Ocean arrived on 29th April and it very quickly demonstrates the creative evolution that was anticipated, but like all great bands it proves to be a slightly unpredictable one.

The vivid album cover with it’s cresting wave crashing against an ocean of colour perhaps provides a clue to what lies within. Weapon opens proceedings proving that the slick production values of previous records are still present and correct, but instead of the heavier guitar-led approach fans were predicting, The Boxer Rebellion deliver an almost retro, synth-led opener full of soaring strings to accompany Nathan Nicholson’s familiar falsetto vocals. This is followed by the hugely satisfying Big Ideas. The song scales epic heights, crafted around Nicholson’s anthemic vocals and complimented appropriately by Andrew Smith’s sweeping guitar which draws upon the architecture of U2’s legendary Joshua Tree album, further enhancing the evocative, retro flavour of the record so far. The song possesses stadium-sized pretensions in the vein of a Coldplay or Radiohead track as it rushes towards its climax, but this quality will certainly not come as a surprise to the band’s devoted followers. Let’s Disappear possesses a sophisticated, funk pop vibe which returns later in You Can Love Me, yet it is Nicholson’s despondent vocals on these songs which ensure they never drops into the superficial. Pull Yourself Together maintains this melancholy approach but it never feels cloying or sickly-sweet.

This is a very mature record and is musically subtle in a grand sort of way. The foundations of these tracks are built upon the evocative vocals and harmonies which float effortlessly within the core of the songs and a strange paradox is formed as the songs feel intimate despite the soaring heights they achieve. Promises may have provided a more instant musical hit but Ocean By Ocean delivers in its elegiac atmospherics. Although the record has jettisoned the hugely satisfying urgency of its predecessor, Ocean By Ocean’s sophistication and innate creativity may ensure that it achieves greatness.


UK/EU DATES

1/5                   DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER

3/5                   OSLO, LONDON (SOLD OUT)

4/5                   EXCHANGE, BRISTOL

5/5                   HARE & HOUNDS, BIRMINGHAM

8/5                   POINT EPHÉMÈRE, PARIS

9/5                   PARADISO NOORD, AMSTERDAM

10/5                 EFFENAAR, EINDHOVEN

12/5                 LUXOR, COLOGNE

13/5                 SCHANZENPARK, HAMBURG

**NEW LONDON DATE ADDED**

07/12               O2 SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE, LONDON

RELEASE OCEAN BY OCEAN OUT NOW THROUGH ABSENTEE RECORDINGS / KOBALT. AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD HERE.

ALBUM TRACKLISTING:

  1. WEAPON
  2. BIG IDEAS
  3. LET’S DISAPPEAR
  4. PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER
  5. FIREWORK
  6. KEEP ME CLOSE
  7. REDEMPTION
  8. THE FOG I WAS LOST IN
  9. YOU CAN LOVE ME
  10. LET IT GO

***

Follow updates from The Boxer Rebellion here.

Review by Iain Fox | @IainFoxPhoto

2 thoughts on “You’ve GOT to Hear This: The Boxer Rebellion – “Ocean By Ocean”

  1. Wasn’t familiar with this band, but I did enjoy this song. The video (for Big Ideas) is pretty cool, too.

    Thanks for the heads-up!

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