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The Boxtones Home (Album Review by Pure M)

The Boxtones are a Scottish/Canadian pop/rock band based in Dubai, and something of a mixed bag. The five-piece was formed by Scottish siblings Gary and Gill Tierney (on guitar/vocals and drums respectively), who are joined by fellow countrywoman Louise Peel (vocals). Patrick Thibault (bass) and Will Janssen (keys, and also engaged to drummer Gill) then make up the group’s Canadian contingent.

Known for their energetic and diverse live performances, The Boxtones spent several years playing Dubai’s live circuit and have shared the stage with artists such as Pharrell, Blur and Florence & The Machine. Home is the group’s inaugural effort since signing to Universal Music MENA, and presents an interesting listen due to the band having such a varied musical and geographical background. The album was recorded at SoundStruck Studios in Dubai, and produced by Elvis Garagic alongside the band’s own Gary Tierney.

The album’s first single and titular track, ‘Home’, sets the tone with its uplifting verses and familiar choruses, not unlike the lively and accessible pop/rock that often braces the charts. ‘Try Just a Little Too Hard’ is effortless in its groove and retains the album’s upbeat and organic nature, although it’s certainly a more modern and polished sound.

Do I Look Like Somebody You Could Love’ is a duet that further follows the modern mainstream pop route, although this track feels more like a Leona Lewis power ballad than a Boxtones song. Next up is ‘It’s Time’, another groovy and uplifting track that is reminiscent of some Katy Perry brand feel-good pop. With its catchy melodies and singalong qualities, the group’s strong writing and production skills are again intrinsic here.

Against the Odds’ is the second single taken from Home, and here we see The Boxtones in their element with an anthemic rock/pop march featuring a nod to their Scottish heritage with a bagpipe cameo. ‘No Ordinary Hero’ is where The Boxtones are at their strongest sonically with a fusion of their energetic rock roots and contemporary pop ethos, although the rap-singing during the verses does feel somewhat outdated.

While ‘Hold On’ is another example of where the group’s style hits a sweet spot, augmenting their signature hooks and melodies with synthesisers and drum machines, ’City of Mirrors (feat. Two Tone)’, seems to have overshot the mark with a sound that is a little confused and appears to have shoehorned their band dynamic into an Avicii track.

UFO’, is another well-written song that feels somewhat let down by its execution, and this duet is probably one track that would benefit from more modern instrumentation. The album then returns to form with the closing track, ‘Ricochet’, another duet where all the elements are all well rounded and highly complimentary.

While Home implements a range of styles to deal with a variety of subject matter such as relationships and resilience, the one definite characteristic throughout is the group’s musicianship and songwriting prowess. Featuring plenty of singalong and hands in the air moments, it’s clear their extensive time entertaining crowds was very influential here, as much of Home sounds like it could have been released by any number of chart topping artists with teams of songwriters and producers.

Home is available for download on the iTunes store.