This is one of Anie’s album reviews. I’ve limited myself to one sentence per song.
Who Should Buy This: People who are looking for soothing music, calming background music, or meditation music.
Album: Ocean by Ocean
Artist: The Boxer Rebellion
Genre: alternative, electronic, indie
Music Rating: 8/10
Lyrics Rating: 7/10
Sounds Like: BANNERS, Coldplay, U2
One Sentence Summary: Blurring the line between rock and ambient music, this album is a beautiful, transcendental musical experience that defies logic at every turn.
Best thing About this Album: The vibe of the whole album is very connected and soothing, even though it’s often sad.
One thing I wish was different: The lyrics are quite difficult to understand at first (but that’s kind of a big part of this type of music). This album does not want silly things such as technical intricacy or analysis to interfere with the emotional experience of music listening. (I’m not even being facetious here. Emotional and meditative music is real and this is a great example of it being done well.)
Website: The Boxer Rebellion
Note: Some of these scores are a little low, because I rate music very analytically. This album is not meant to be looked at under a technical microscope. It will appear distorted. Much like pointalistic art, these songs should be heard from a mental distance in order to grasp the full picture of beauty. This music is largely about tone and emotional resonance.
This is a playlist of all of the songs from the album that will automatically play through the whole album. To skip to a particular song, click on the menu icon in the upper left-hand corner.
Immediate soaring vocals introduce us to the tone of the album as an understated groove somehow soothes instead of driving forward, adding musical interest to the electronic soundscape.
Can’t not talk about: Why can something so heartbreakingly sad comfort me? It shouldn’t work, but it’s quite therapeutic actually.
2. Big Ideas*
Opening with a synth lead that makes me believe in love-at-first-listen and a minimalistic guitar that acts almost in a percussive role (we’ll add more rhythm guitar later), I love this song primarily on concept — the lyrics are not technically great or profound, but the song connects with my heart in a strong way that is hard to verbalize or identify the causation of.
Can’t not talk about: I once wrote a line for a song, “but we’re both optimistic cynics.” This song is from the point of view of a pessimistic idealist (which resonates with me and delights me for some reason. I’d say I need therapy, but it’s all good, because I have this album).
3. Let’s Disappear
The music on this song is fantastically exciting and at the same time, wholly relaxing (seriously, how is that even a thing!?), and, in a slight departure from the majority of the album, the lyrics on this track actually shine quite brightly, helping to convey powerful meaning in the refrain at the end of the verses that puts blood in my veins.
Can’t not talk about: I feel like I shouldn’t, but I REALLY love the ending of this track. It lets you know that this is not a celebrity trying to sell a song; this is an artist trying to tell a story. It makes me proud to own this album on vinyl. On an entirely different note: (and I say this will all the love in my heart, but this is honestly the thought that I could not put from my head while listening to this track) “Why do I feel like his voice sounds like a Muppet in this one?”
4. Pull Yourself Together
This track instantly reminded me of Lights, (which is high praise coming from this music-loving lady who may or may not be semi-unhealthy levels of obsessed with her music) as this tracks kicks its therapeutic, otherworldly healing properties to the next realm of soothing, which is a good thing, because the message of this song is equally endearing in its aiding efforts.
Can’t not talk about: “Open up to open arms and up to disagree” <– Genius. Just genius.
Pulling the tone back into a more human realm, this song is more musically straightforward with splashes of etherealily throughout. (Yes, I just combine the word ethereal with reality. Deal with it.)
Can’t not talk about: I like that I don’t quite know how to take this song. It’s a real life parallel, and it doesn’t cast judgement, so the overall conclusion can really go either way. Fireworks are explosive and dangerous, but they’re also brilliant, pretty, and denote a party. “You’re ignited like a firework. You’re a light that you’ve never known.”
6. Keep Me Close*
This music is by far the most funky and dark of the album, and (whether real or imagined) I feel like the lyrics are a brilliant and poignant nod at “The Art of War”.
Can’t not talk about: Keep your friends close . . .
I hear some predominant acoustic guitar for the first time on this album, and you’d better believe that it puts a big smile on my face right away as electric piano maintains continuity in the overall sound profile, and the message of the lyrics feel both beautiful and sorely needed following the last track.
Can’t not talk about: “and then you fall, when you know you don’t know yourself at all” (This one is my favorite track on the album!)
8. The Fog I Was Lost In
Taking place in a reflective frame-of-mind, the music on this track largely feels like a haunting memory, setting the ambient tone and eliciting an experience of complacent confusion in a sonic soundscape that acts as a bank of fog covering the musical horizon
Can’t not talk about: “I feel I’m just a shadow. A barricade to above. A believer that lost the nerve. A light I covered up.”
9. You Can Love Me
The instant ambient makes your existence stop for a second before the drums kickstart your heart in a beautifully brutal setup that foreshadows some unbelievably powerful, layered lyrical lines, all building up to the simple, fragile titular refrain.
Can’t not talk about: It just got real up in here! Some of those lyrics were ferociously true in a way that aches down to your bones. (Also, the first chord of this song always has my mind convinced that it’s going to be Preacher by OneRepublic for some reason, but then it goes all minor on me instead of being raised.)
10. Let It Go
Lyrics: 1 <– That is pretty generous actually. Remember these are analytical scores.
It’s fitting that this track closes out the album, as I feel like it epitomizes the Eastern philosophy of the entire album musically, with lyrics acting as meditative refrains to focus the mind and enable transcendence from the human realm through practiced simplicity.
Can’t not talk about: Please, I am begging you: DO NOT focus on lyrical analysis when listening to this song. It will take this track from a beautifully powerful experience to pure torture. If you try to get in the driver’s seat, your car is probably going to crash and burn. Just let your mind focus where the music wants to take you, and it won’t lead you astray.
Conclusion: This music doesn’t stop my heart or wake me up, but it comforts my soul.
Denotes my favorites
* Denotes songs released as singles