Roughly a year ago, I reviewed The Boxing Lesson‘s self-titled EP in the midst of mourning the death of my friend. The moody jams seemed well-suited to the grim task of sorting through my bruised emotions. Thus, it was with much fondness and anticipation that I popped The Boxing Lesson‘s latest installment, Radiation. I hoped that this time I could give the music a little more objective attention, apart from my feelings. Radiation gives me the chance to fairly review the band’s music, though I suspect that I still have a few lingering sentimental feelings towards The Boxing Lesson.
After listening to Radiation a few times, I can’t help but shake the feeling that this band embodies their locale: LA. Everything about Radiation just screams LA, from the passionate Matt Kelly (The Autumns)-influenced vocals to the sleek guitar lines and production. While listening to this CD, one can imagine him or herself taking in the music at a downtown LA uber-slick bar. Simply stated, Radiation is a well-produced, well-executed CD that musically is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor.
Beginning with an untitled droney-soundscape that sets the mood, The Boxing Lesson then delivers the title cut, sounding a little like the aforementioned Autumns, but less spacey and a little less dark, while being more aggressive and loud. The climax of “Radiation” just explodes into a full assault of guitars and emotional vocals. The Boxing Lesson display a more varied approach in terms of dynamics compared to their debut. “Comfortable” comes next, with its mellow acoustic guitar caressing the vocals of lead singer Paul Waclawsky. The song progresses to a fully fleshed-out finish, again demonstrating the band’s ability to harness their emotion and sound until the perfect moment. “Don’t Cry” follows, with its dark and dense wall of guitars. The song nicely sets its main feature, an inspired guitar solo expertly and fervently played. The remaining songs on the ep (“Pharmacy”, “It’s True”, and “Dream Away”) continue in the vein of The Boxing Lesson’s brand of rock slightly influenced by space-rock.
As noted above, with the highly accomplished voice of Waclawsky, the excellent guitar playing, the mastery over different volumes of sound, and the pristine production, Radiation has a big budget feel. The Boxing Lesson sounds like a highly accomplished veteran band from Los Angeles flexing their muscles, which is saying a lot for an independent band. Radiation passes the test of an objective review for me (not taking into account the emotional impact The Boxing Lesson’s previous release had on me), and should be the launching point for even greater success for the band.