Follow Us on Twitter

The Boxer Rebellion - Union

The Boxer Rebellion, Union

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

IT’S taken a little while for The Boxer Rebellion to deliver their sophomore album – but it’s not for want of trying.

Since being signed on the back of their Glastonbury performance in 2003, the band have suffered a stop-start career at the hands of a volatile music industry.

Their label imploded and then singer Nathan Nicholson found himself critically ill on a life-support machine.

Nicholson recovered, however, and defiantly took matters into his own hands, writing the songs for Union and then opting to self-release the finished LP through iTunes in January 2009.

The ploy worked. Lead single Evacuate became the first ever global iTunes Single of the Week and amassed 560,000 downloads in seven days, while Union went top 5 on both iTunes US and UK album charts within 48 hours, resulting in The Boxer Rebellion becoming the first unsigned band to break into the Billboard Top 100 Album Charts on a digital-only release.

Now that it’s getting a physical release, Union is finally revealed to be a competent return – one that channels the spirit of bands such as The Verve, Radiohead and Starsailor, and which displays a keen ear for guitar-based melodies.

Songs such as the brooding, Radiohead-style Misplaced, with its desolate central guitar riff, or the epic slow-burner The Gospel of Goro Adachi (similarly Radiohead-esque, circa Kharma Police), contrast effectively with the likes of the rousing Forces to showcase the album at its best.

While former hit digital single Evacuate bangs, throbs and impresses with its layered vocals, haunted style and impactful, siren-like riffs.

Put together over the course of a whole album, it’s a strong return and one that’s testament to the band’s determination and self-belief.

It probably won’t change the world or launch The Boxer Rebellion into the stratosphere, but it is worth a listen.

Download picks: Misplaced, The Gospel of Goro Adachi, Evacuate, Forces

Track listing:

  1. Flashing Red Light Means Go
  2. Move On
  3. Evacuate
  4. Soviets
  5. Spitting Fire
  6. Misplaced
  7. The Gospel of Goro Adachi
  8. These Walls Are Thin
  9. Forces
  10. Semi-Automatic
  11. Silent Movie