The second full-length release from London based The Boxer Rebellion is finally out in physical form, following an exclusive launch on iTunes in January of this year. After securing the fourth position on the iTunes UK album chart, expectations are high for the group’s first album since 2005’s Exits. This physical release of Union is a testament to the power of the internet and what it can offer unsigned bands: debut single ‘Evacuate’ was the first song on iTunes to become global single of the week, and the album itself has the honour of being the first record from an unsigned act to appear on the Billboard Top 100 without an accompanying physical release.
However, for all the early bluster and cutting edge sales performance, the album itself is fairly standard shoegaze indie-rock affair. The instrumental aspect seems to hit a trudging middle ground between an anthemic Coldplay and a chilled-out The Twilight Sad, while the vocals veer from sounding like a stunted Sigur Ros to a less earnest Sunny Day Real Estate.
If stadium-sized post-indie is your thing then you could do a lot worse than this, although with all the talk of online sales success it’s hard not to feel underwhelmed. The guitar production could do with tidying up, although this is perhaps understandable given the DIY ethic behind the album.
When Union does hit the right notes it can soar high like the best of its peers. Not too high, mind you — anything above the navel and the fan base is likely to miss it altogether.