Wild Streaks & Windy Days
Big Bigness, 2007
REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/17/2008
With an opening track titled “Dark Side Of The Moog,” one would expect this to be another prog-rock wannabe band that relies on the sounds pioneered by true musicians. Fortunately, The Boxing Lesson is not such a band.
This is the first full-length by the band, following five years of existence and three EPs. It clocks at more than an hour, a dense and sonically rewarding disc that calls to mind Floyd, Tool and any current emo band you’d care to name.
That’s right, The Boxing Lesson is at heart a psychedelic emo band in love with The Wall and The Cure’s Disintegration. “Hopscotch & Sodapop” sounds like a pop song from the latter band, actually, but it’s not representative of what’s here, kind of like how “Lovesong” didn’t really fit Disintegration.
Lest you think the album is all brooding guitar lines and synth flourishes, “Hanging With The Wrong Crowd” is a fun little number with an all-over-the-map bassline and Casio keyboard-like drums supporting samples of space beeps and whatnot. However, the song gives way to a standard rock song halfway through (“She’s a sex assassin”…sounds like Spinal Tap), albeit an off-kilter upbeat rock song.
The pieces here are long, wavering from the moody “Muerta” to the ballad “Scoundrel” and the rocker “Freedom,” which would have been a big hit in 1974 and still should be today.
The trio makes a couple of missteps -- “Timing” plods along and “Lower,” while good, is far too long for what it offers -- but then something like “The Art Of Pushing Me Away” comes along and redeems the disc. It would be a head trip to see these guys live (two guys and a girl, actually), as the music would swirl and fill up a spacious stadium or club.
As “Dark Side” started the disc with a good capsule of what the band is about, the title track says a gorgeous goodbye. It is here the band sounds more like Pink Floyd and less like themselves, at least in the first few minutes, but where that band could be menacing in its slower passages, singer/guitarist Paul Waclawsky is inviting and sad. Still, having heard a lot of progressive rock means knowing where the song is heading… the instruments build in volume and intensity and, finally, the piece fades out on a couple synth notes.So, while there is a little bit of “been there” throughout, The Boxing Lesson has mined interesting territory here, and anyone who likes progressive rock and shoegazer pop/emo will find the two a natural combination. Not everything works, but what does makes this one of the more interesting releases of the year.