Boxed In – ‘Melt’ Review

With their bigger and better second album, London-based indie/dance band Boxed In have earned their breakout moment

It’s hard not to see parallels between Oli Bayston, the mastermind behind indie/dance group Boxed In, and [a]Tame Impala[/a]’s psych wizard Kevin Parker. Genres aside, each has honed an unmistakable musical aesthetic, and on the way they’ve both become sought-after producers in their own right. ‘Melt’ – conceivably Bayston’s big ‘Lonerism’ moment – sees him beginning to share the reins with his three Boxed In bandmates, and fleshing out the live elements of his idiosyncratic pop/krautrock/house blend with seamless electronic flourishes.

That symbiotic relationship of analogue-meets-digital fluctuates smoothly across the whole record, beginning with the repetitive funk of ‘Jist’ and ending with ‘Open Ended’, a harmonious closing track that sees Bayston accepting the cyclical nature of mistakes. The BPM’s higher than average, but it’s really a bittersweet album, one that grapples with specific personal angst and still manages to hold universal meaning.

‘Melt’ may sound like a slog, but it rarely feels that way. Deft melodies and deep-end instrumentation ensure that even the darkest track here, ‘Black Prism’, is an object of depressive fascination: a vortex of nightmarish synth and piano, at the eye of which the plaintive vocal sits unaffected. Bayston uses similar skills on dancier, comparatively brighter tracks like ‘Up To You/Down To Me’, or pares the production back for introspective moments of regret like ‘Oxbow’. Balancing the darkness out is the irrepressible buoyancy of title track ‘Melt’, whose mix of strings, clattering beats, and a guitar solo make it a winner even before Bayston’s vocal hits its moment of unexpected abandon.

As a whole, ‘Melt’ is almost as well rounded as the domed and veiled marble noggin that graces the album sleeve. Boxed In’s key strength – a refined kind of minimalism – is best demonstrated by the bewitching seven-note synth line that weaves its way through ‘Open Ended’. Bayston’s brilliant at producing these repetitive but nuanced melodies, most of which knot themselves inside your brain and won’t let go.

Details

Release date: 23 Sep, 2016