In the 2010 film Going The Distance
, The Boxer Rebellion serve as the opportunity Justin Long's character takes to leave his unfulfilling job at a record label in order to pursue his passion. The band continues to represent this passion with their third studio album, The Cold Still
. Though not forcefully dynamic, the album does an excellent job of portraying the more thoughtful, introspective side of rock. The Boxer Rebellion solidify their talent at transcending the crutch of catchy hooks, and rather, captivate with the power of vocal ability and instrumental melancholy.
The Cold Still
begins with a distinct sense of power. The steady pounding of drums open up first track "No Harm", and are followed by the punctuating notes of a piano along with singer Nathan Nicholson's striking vocals. Each instrument in the song has an individual section of introduction, making the touching and serious slow burner an appropriate opening track. The tone of conviction continues with "Step Out of the Car". The song's deliberate bass is rather jarring, and steps deeper into the darkness surrounding the album, though it maintains its contemplative attitude while exploring an edgier vibe.
The tempo picks up with tracks like "Organ Song", "The Runner", and "Locked In The Basement". Also intriguing is "Caught By The Light"; it's a gorgeous diversion. While a somewhat soothing rendition, it is also thick with feeling, expertly expressed through the vocals that pack enough haunting talent to make anyone shiver. With songs like this, it is understandable why they were featured in Going The Distance
, as each track could easily serve as the background to a contemplative, slow motion scene in any drama on television or in cinemas.
Though the longest song, "Both Sides Are Even" will earn most of your attention as it is also one of the most interesting. Opened with beautiful guitar, it is more delicate and has less of the hard flavor that directs the other tracks. Even Nicholson's voice is softer, but still just as striking as the power picks up seamlessly, and then subsides with just as much ease. This song manages to achieve an exacting captivation that the rest of the album does not fully deliver. A close runner up would be the vocally rich final song: "Doubt". A soft acoustic guitar and the nearly overwhelming power of the vocals support an open, stripped down representation of the commanding elegance of The Cold Still
. In the middle of the song, the heaviness melts away as the drums kick in and guitar becomes clearer, ending the album with a transition that possesses the distinct feel of a thawing winter.
Individually, the tracks all have an unassuming depth, yet when listened to as a whole it is difficult to distinguish them from one another in retrospect, such as with tracks like "Cause For Alarm" and "Memo". Despite this after-effect, the songs definitely have a chilling effect when standing on their own. It is Nicholson's voice that seems to craft the trademark sound of the album's pensive direction. These vocals are a definite highlight, as they soar with the same intensity as Keane's Tom Chaplin. Another standout quality is the album's powerful vibe of colossal heaviness, similar to Civil Twilight's "Letters From The Sky". And though the album as a whole seems to just skim the edges of an etherial vibe, there are definite moments of alluringly clear, potent charisma.
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