[sic] Magazine

The Boxer Rebellion – Promises

Wow. Right from the off, this album completely penetrates my mind. ‘Diamonds’ sounds so polished, in a ‘Hey Little Girl’ ( Icehouse ) kind of way. It’s layered beautifully, starting only with drums and synths – then later, guitars, vocals, more guitars, more synths, you get the picture. It’s absolutely divine. It sounds as if Brian Eno is in the room hiding behind the curtains.

By ‘Fragile’ I’m already thinking that this might be The Boxer Rebellion’s best album. That’s a tremendous accolade given the high quality of their previous output. Second album Union already spends a fair amount of time in my CD player and follow-up The Cold Still features some genuinely superb tracks – but Promises really is something else altogether. It raises the bar. So… back to ‘Fragile’, there’s some wonderful digital delayed guitars lending the song a slight U2 feel, but this really is w-i-d-e-s-c-r-e-e-n music which demands a large stage. I can’t somehow imagine it sounding quite right in a small club. A sound this BIG deserves an arena.

‘Always’ and ‘Take Me Back’ change the mood slightly and deliver more of what I would call a standard rock sound. This is more like The Boxer Rebellion of previous outings which is certainly going to appeal to long-time fans. Both tracks take you to places where rock acts simply don’t go in 2013. I particularly love the vocals on the latter track and the layers of synths/distorted guitars.

The vocals simply soar during ‘Low’. I could imagine this song playing at the end of a Hollywood movie. Once again, the instrumentation is layered but there’s less of a build to this track. The vocals really lift this track and it aspires to the ‘less is more’ rule of song writing.

‘Keep Moving’ moves the band back into widescreen territory. In a really good way. In fact, this song is simply so good that I’d like to physically meet the band and personally shake their hands for delivering such a beautiful work of art. The entire band completely gels and the vocals hit notes which I didn’t think existed. It’s superb.

‘New York’ would certainly appeal to Killers fans, it has to be said, for it lends itself to the slightly polished side of indie rock. New Yorkers should love it.

‘Safe House’ continues with more of the same theme. The slow build at the end (with some wonderful vocal harmonies) really ought to be a crowd-pleasing end-of-set mission statement. Crowds love nothing more than to sing along. This song simply demands it.

‘You Belong To Me’ is a sombre, reflective track. During ‘Dream’ I want to run into the garden and start letting off some big fireworks. Why not? The sound’s absolutely massive.

During final track ‘Promises’, I’m left with the feeling that there’s a consistency throughout this album which I felt was slightly missing on previous album The Cold Still – you know – the feeling that you can relate to a track before you’ve even heard it. That really is a good thing. I can imagine arms punching the air at gigs throughout the ending of this song.

It has to be said that quality control doesn’t let up throughout this album. I won’t go into the full history of The Boxer Rebellion (it’s well documented that the band’s first record label imploded just two weeks after their first album was released, a planned tour with The Killers had to be cancelled because of a burst appendix) but they’ve almost done an Elbow and upped their game massively. I hope the public is listening.

I’m going to cherish this album for a long time to come.

Band of the Year 2011