On Boston duo Box of Birds latest EP, Go Away Ghost, they explore new sounds without abandoning their paradoxical punk-folk style.

Boston duo Box of Birds (Steph Durwin, Charlie Gargano) specialize in mixing together the sounds of rock and folk, blending many instrumental layers in their roots-oriented productions. They’ve been making music together for over five years, and their hard work has paid off—last year’s Boston Music Awards recognized them with a nomination for Best Folk Artist. On their latest EP, Go Away Ghost, they explore new sounds. For instance, songs like “Animals” turn on a dime from folksy nylon guitar strums to a hard-edged, Cranberries-channeling chorus, while others like “Fill In the Blanks” combine brushed snares with swells of mandolin plucking.

The core of the band’s sound is found in the contrast between Durwin’s alto and the instrumentals. Yes, the diversity of sounds on this EP makes it a more colorful listen than the average folk-rock fare, but Box of Birds are not a genreless outfit. Her voice is almost like an emo frontman’s, clear and sharp, fond of long, held notes in the chorus. While the contrast doesn’t work as well in traditional folk, her voice has the greatest effect on the EP’s titular track, which also happens to be its strongest song. Despite some head-scratching lyrics (“you’re not a man, she said / you’re an anxious fish, caught on sacred land”), the song hits its zenith in the last minute and half, where a soaring chorus finally spirals into a shrieking guitar solo that feels as good as it sounds, unleashing all the tension built up in the previous verses.

A look back at some of the group’s previous releases lends credence to the theory that punk-influenced folk might be the group’s sweet spot. (2015’s “Bomb Bright” is the best example of this). Recently, Box of Birds downsized from a quartet to a duo, but their sound has only expanded since then. Go Away Ghost is only five songs long, but still feels sprawling. This could be in part because the band doesn’t always adhere to traditional song structures, but as “Go Away Ghost” shows, this can be a strength. While the latest EP features mostly laid-back tempos and rhythms, their songs are arranged cleverly to keep them from fading into the background.

As their previous releases also demonstrate, both Durwin and Gargano are excellent instrumentalists, and the textures they create are one of the highlights of the EP. From the very beginning, as shown in the washed-out guitar atmosphere that opens “Fill In The Blanks,” the band is comfortable switching between genres and embracing sounds that other folk-rockers might dismiss as uncool (take the extended melodica solo on “The Aging Mold”, for example). These musical choices make the duo even more likable, suggesting that while they’re talented musicians, they don’t take themselves overly seriously.

In short, Go Away Ghost is a solid folk/rock release from a duo whose sound doesn’t always neatly fit in the confines of those genres. While the amount of ideas in these songs might pose a challenge to some, Durwin and Gargano add a few welcome sonic twists while playing to their strengths.

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