redbook’s song “Box” is a soulful break up anthem that boasts high energy, power-house vocals, and no shortage of righteous rage. It’s a song about anger, but more about regret – the pit you get in your stomach when you’ve escaped a relationship and you’re forced to acknowledge the crap you put up with from your past partner. It’s a song about internal conflict, the disbelief that you could have made such a mistake; a song about the way affection blinds us and the way we seek to see again.
Too many times you twisted the truth/Turn it upside down and didn’t follow the rules/Now it’s coming to an end.
The opening verse unspools in sharp, wiry tones, the vocals set atop lively guitar. Its lyrics are a bit cliché, but delightfully furious, to the point where you can’t help but root for the narrator. redbook’s vocals swell on the word “end,” creating a rising effect that leads nicely into the chorus.
So where did I leave it?/Where did I leave my heart?/Where did I leave it?/ I should have left it locked in a box.
The chorus captures the feeling of being trapped with yourself. After a nasty breakup, there’s a tendency to shut down, to withdraw into yourself where you’re trapped with your anger and regret, where you ask yourself with no small amount of frustration: what was I thinking? The passionate vocals, jarring harmonies, and instrumental support captures that. It’s implosive, pained, bewildered.
At this point, the song breaks into lively scats, leaping into a new vitality. Personally, this is my favorite part of the song – the group’s lead singer adopts a new playfulness in the vocals, generating a lively cast of emotions that stand with no need for traditional lyrics. The instrumental backdrop meets the playfulness with equal energy, dropping out and slamming back in to punctuate the narrator’s point. In this section, it seems that the narrator’s frustration melts into something closer to sadness. You feel the regret simmering beneath the anger – the soft hurt that lies beneath the thunderous rage. In this way, the section adds a subversive, self-aware twist to the song’s tone.
This quiet grief carries into the re-opening of the chorus. In this final rendition of the chorus, the instrumentals bow back, making room for a vulnerability in the vocals we haven’t seen yet. The vocalist embraces the hurt in this moment, orchestrating a slow build that peaks again into that wounded anger. This leads to a bright and ferocious conclusion, an end deserving of the song’s emotional context.
redbook’s “Box” is a song that bursts at the seams. It’s full, energetic, and fearless. Admittedly, the vocals lack some control, but in a quite charming way – in a way that makes you feel the loss of control the speaker feels, the kind of pain that swings and swells and breaks. You can’t help but side with her, which is always a good sign for break up songs. This is not a song that should be kept in a box. It’s a song that you should keep nearby – a song you should turn to when you emerge, blinking, from a pair of rose glasses.
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