Sounding more like an East Coast band, Boxspring, lead by Mitchell Layton, is a lo-fi acoustic set-up hailing from Los Angeles. The group started shortly after Layton left a metal/electronic band, and he realized that it wasn’t his ideal mode of expression. With melancholy guitar riffs and Layton’s soft voice, Boxspring creates a sound that is akin to the innocence and honesty of an early-00’s garage band.
Sundowning is Boxspring’s first album since 2018. It sounds under-produced, possibly not mixed and edited at all, but that’s part of the process. Layton’s music is honest and moving and sometimes sounds like reading someone’s journal entries. Confessions and expressions of emotion come in waves, with each song describing various life’s letdowns.
The album may sound like a mix-mash of genres and sounds, but when each track is listened to in isolation, it is clear that it is a musical therapy session. “You’ll Be Alright” deals with family trauma and support for presumably, Layton’s younger self. It is heart-breaking poetry that tries to plead and rationalize leaving someone while also reassuring himself that that is ok.
Isolation and loneliness is a common thread. With simple lyrics and an acoustic backing that juxtaposes the lonely lyrics, “DMV” sounds like a straight-forward emo-pop track. It is upbeat to grab attention and has words of soul-destroying feelings of depression and self-loathing to engage the heart. If this track was released 15 years ago, there is no doubt that it would have found its perfect audience.
Despite the sadness, Layton also offers some more upbeat tracks to get your ears around. “Kill Me Once, Shame On You” is like a demo theme tune that has been recorded for a sitcom. It has a usual optimism, while some unknown conflict hides in the background. And while it isn’t a long track (but longer than others on the album), it is Layton’s lullaby voice pulls you in.
Sundowning melts into a mix of indie low-fi tracks and intermittent injections of unbridled anger and confusion to make the album sound like a first-time artsy emo album. This may not be Layton’s intention. His previous album Good Not Great had the same level of pessimism with dare I say, more of a polished result. He still included random voice snippets, but that album seemed to be working towards something. It seemed like a work in progress with much hope for the future, but unfortunately, Sundowning hasn’t delivered.
However, it is difficult to figure out if Layton uses his music to be self-deprecating or knowingly garage-band like. The band’s social media handle is boxspringistheworst, and with a name like that, it gives him unlimited scope to try and not be afraid to fail. And that type of courage has to be admired.