The Boxing Lesson – Wild Streaks & Windy Days
For influences, local Austin band The Boxing Lesson could do much worse: the songs off Wild Streaks & Windy Days reveal an appreciation for the hypnotic swirl of The Secret Machines (“Lower,” “Muerta,”), the pop-prog-trips of MuteMath (“Timing,” “Dance with Meow,) and the grandiosity of Muse (“Dark Side of the Moog,” “Scoundrel”). And like these bands, and Minus the Bear, another group with nonsensical song titles, The Boxing Lesson attempt to synthesize these influences into something greater and original.
What The Boxing Lesson is lacking is not simply talent, restraint, or any lyrical insight at all – although throwaway songs like “Hopscotch & Sodapop” and “Freedom” would suggest they’re missing those too. Their most notable problem is they have no direction. With songs like “Scoundrel” and the title track lasting nearly seven minutes but offering no payoff, no climactic build, The Boxing Lesson aren’t giving us more, they’re making us wait longer for less.
Encompassing Pink Floyd synth washes provide pleasing backdrops for clean guitar lines on nearly every song, but when it takes more than two-and-a-half minutes to get to the opening verse of the title track, only to have it rip off the music and lyrics from the title track of The Secret Machines’ “The Road Leads Where It’s Lead” – albeit slower and with less passion and intent – you can’t help but feel cheated. The Boxing Lesson seem to have their hearts and ears in the right place, but singer Paul Waclawsky’s lyrics go nowhere, and without something to set his voice apart – aggression, passion, any feeling – the album ends up getting carried away, lost in the large-scale but rootless sweeping effect they created.