The Boxer Rebellion / The Cold Still / Absentee Recordings
In the past few years, The Boxer Rebellion has been a go-to band for anyone filming something portraying a diverse range of emotion. Whether it be a popular prime time drama, an angsty indie film, or even a behind-the-scenes sports documentary, the band’s steady drum beats, foggy, epic-sounding guitar patterns and symphonic keyboards are just the sort of things to play during long shots of people staring off into the distance, or stuck in traffic, or training. What seems to be a major help to their marketability as a soundtrack band, while possibly holding them back from really reaching the level of a headlining act is the lyrical and vocal stylings of Nathan Nicholson. On The Cold Still, the spark of passion regularly seems to be missing.
Nicholson’s niche, this time around at least, seems to be writing short stanzas about being a loner, occasionally supplementing interesting lyrics for frequently repeated ones. Listeners aren’t treated to too many shocking literary bombs in the final verses of songs, especially on “The Runner” which might well have been scrawled on a cocktail napkin prior to recording. Real passion is evident on slower numbers such as “No Harm” and “Doubt”, where he pulls off a more-than passable Chris Martin impression and vamps falsetto but elsewhere he’s so understated it almost sounds like he’s faking it. Still, it’s those songs more based off mood than lyrics (“Both Sides Are Even”) that leave listeners with the kind of empty feeling so perfect for moody second acts on television.
Download: “No Harm”, “Both Sides Are Even”
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