Boxer Rebellion - Exits
Liam McGrady 01/06/2005
Back in the late eighties, Public Enemy gave us a warning. “Don't Believe The Hype” they told us. Now, The Boxer Rebellion have been hyped. Not quite to the 'gills' as they say, but there's been a fair amount of 'big-ing up' going on nevertheless. So, the question here is: do I side with Chuck D & Co.; do I join the mass hype-mongering, or do I fall somewhere in between?
'Exits' is a pretty good record overall (so what if I'm playing it safe. If The Boxer Rebellion can do it, why can't I?). There's a minor panic on hearing first track, 'Flight', as it sets off like a Kasabian single (yeah, I know their whole album was released as singles, but you get the picture); but the huge slabs of jagged guitars and emotionally ravaged vocals manage to pull it away from the feeble Dance/Rock hybrid it threatens to be. Oh, and like the vast majority of the songs on this debut album, it's about breaking free and escaping.
The reason this album is only “pretty good” comes from the fact that The Boxer Rebellion are aiming for something they don't quite pull off - the 'epic'. Never the easiest of things to achieve, they mainly veer toward the pretentious posturing of U2, with the intro of 'We Have This Place Surrounded' being a dead ringer for 'Beautiful Day'. Much better are the shorter, angrier sounding tracks. 'Watermelon' has the same claustrophobic feel as early Verve and 'The New Heavy' features a rattling, punk fuelled riff and arrogant lyrical gestures like, “If you want me, come and get me.”
'Exits' reaches its peak with the aching ballad, 'World Without End'. Like a distant cousin of Radiohead's 'Exit Music', it's a bruised, world weary, acoustic/piano led tale of just letting things slide; not joining the race, “Rest your eyes, this goes on for miles/Watch it all going by.”
'The Absentee' brings this album to a close in typical 'Boxer Rebellion fashion'. Delay laden guitars, massive sounding drums, anguished vocals and ponderous bass lines all add up to something that's pleasant enough, yet doesn't live up to the hype.