Textbook - Boxing Day Massacre
Record Label: Boss Tuneage Records
Release Date: July 14, 2009
For three dudes from Chicago, a band name neatly illustrates their album's production process; and not in a good way.
"Boxing Day Massacre" exemplifies how a band eases their way into a scene by playing it safe. The album spells out the ABC's of rock, sticking to simple progressions and standard lyrics (i.e.- wanting a girl or time quickly passing by). Still, there's a certain ruggedness that undercuts the album, keeping listeners' ears perked. The music leads with its vocals, which may be a mistake given the mediocre sound of vocalist-guitarist Dave Lysien. He carries the lyrics well enough to pass as a singer, but the strain to hit higher notes distracts listeners from the otherwise catchy flow of each song. Also very pervasive are the guitars, which occasionally overlap to create a warm depth to each track.
Boxing Day Massacre can grow on a listener as he or she travels through its 33 minutes. Not only does the album swim through genres, transitioning from rock to punk-rock to emo and indie, but the production quality seems to improve from track to track. In the opening song, "Outside," Lysien delivers very strange, pseudo-echoing lyrics, but by "Walking Out On You," the band gets the hang of soothing harmonies.
Although different genres creep into different songs as the album progresses, a listener is offered the same chord progressions and time signature in the faster-paced songs. Very rarely does a breakdown shake up the monotonous beats, including a very welcomed tempo change in "And Beware." The hope for breaking out of familiarity also comes in the form of a shred fest in "Called My Bluff."
Slower songs, however, seem to fit the band's MO much better. Lysien's voice relaxes in "The Weight of Everything," conveying an appropriately weighty emotion. Coincidentally, as the song talks about driving on a sunny day, a listener can imagine the song on a local alternative rock station while driving during the dog days of summer.
Textbook keeps their music simple and their lyrics literal; there's no guesswork, making Boxing Day Massacre a light and easy listen.