On 2006's Golden EP, Raleigh-based quartet Boxbomb outlined a peculiar brand of melodic grunge laced with hard rock. What's more peculiar about their sound is it earned them a spot on Tragic Hero Records, a Raleigh label more accustomed to screamers like Alesana and post-emo darlings Yearling than modern rockers like Boxbomb. The band's first full-length, My Obsession, finds Boxbomb looking to expand on and improve on the sounds from Golden, building from their grunge base with an ambitious span of assorted genres including country and blues.
But the genre-jumping of My Obsession is a bit confusing, as the grunge that the band does best gets lost in the midst of so many other sounds and emotions. "Monotony" and "Get What You Pay For" are angst-ridden purges, with flashes of Nirvana and even early Incubus. On "Monotony," Ryan Gustafson nods to Billy Corgan, singing that he's "still so full of rage/ now I'm still just a rat in a cage." The title track finds haunting chants offset by Gustafson's high-pitched wail, both ultimately pierced by dueling guitar solos. It fades into an intro for the trippy but elegant "Further." Meanwhile, "Let Go," "James St." and "Good Boy" are drenched in Whiskeytown suds. Clad in alt.country boots, Boxbomb's earnest gloom is a bit heavy-handed.
But perhaps the stylistic shifts that throw My Obsession's direction are only a symptom of poor editing. With 13 tracks and a running time that pushes an hour, the disc drags near the end, stymied by a suite of slower songs that could have been reimagined or reserved. Still, My Obsession has its moments. It's just that they're part of a puzzle that only the band can answer: Who are you?
Boxbomb hosts a CD release show for My Obsession Friday, Dec. 14, at Cat's Cradle at 8:30 p.m. Yearling, Josh Moore and Barbarella open the free show. My Obsession will be available at the show, online Dec. 25 and in stores Feb. 5.