on 180g transparent red vinyl - When it arrived in early 2015, Boxed In's self-titled debut was a pleasant surprise: the band's fluid fluency with dance and indie rock felt like the work of a more established act. They haven't lost their touch on Melt, an album that wastes no time showcasing the extremes of their music. "Jist," which was co-produced by frontman Oli Bayston and his former mentor Dan Carey, sounds tougher than anything on Boxed In as it fuses Krautrock, house, and techno into a looping groove that becomes more engrossing with each revolution. It's followed by "Shadowboxing," a piece of deceptively cheery synth pop full of the polished hooks and harmonies that made the band's debut such a delight. Boxed In spend the rest of Melt blurring musical and emotional boundaries, flowing past rigid definitions of either on songs like the serene-yet-searching closing track, "Open Ended." The album's mix of moods and sounds is unpredictable, and all the better for it: "Black Prism" sets introspection to skittering rhythms, while the title track pairs heartbreak with a house beat that engages the mind, heart, and feet at the same time. Boxed In may have even more range on Melt than they did before, and their songs have swelled to accommodate their new nuances. "Oxbow" begins as crisp pop before blossoming into a dance epic; "Underbelly" slowly builds on creeping arpeggios, then sets fire to its self-doubt as it flares into pulsing electro-rock. While the band's resemblance to its forebears is still strong -- especially on the standout "Forget," which Hot Chip would be proud to call their own -- Boxed In sound more assured than ever as they expand on that legacy.
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