Foxygen – “We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic”
This is the second studio album materialising from the collaborative efforts of Jonathan Rado and Sam France, a California-based rock and roll songwriting duo that go onstage under the name of “Foxygen”. After a few curious listens online, I spotted the 33rpm version in a record shop in town and my girlfriend ended up getting it. Since then, its ability to keep me coming back has been really surprising and I now find myself absentmindedly singing little bits from most of its songs when I’m showering or tidying up.
Various sonic nods back to late-sixties psychedelia saturate the overall feel of the record, betraying clearly that the twosome have invested much of their time into a shared passion for turntabling the cream of the British invasion crop and other sixties gems. The basic, rock based stomp of the album is established on the first track, “In the Darkness”, by the intermittent urgency of a high pitched, hammering piano attack overlaying the guitar. This quickly subsides into the sugary acoustic pulse of “No Destruction”, the band’s whimsically anthemic pledge for pacifism. As the album progresses, vocalist Sam France’s dreamy, Ray Davies-esque sigh reveals a tendency to crack and contort into a cocksure, Jagger-inspired snarl which he really does pull off. You can hear this in the second bridge of “No Destruction” as he contemptuously declares that “the door of consciousness isn’t open any more!” as well as in the eery, half-lucid ascent of the next track, “On Blue Mountain” where he assures us that “on Blue Mountain God will save us” in a paranoid frenzy that shrouds this proclaimed utopia in dark mystery. The band’s comfortable way with mid-song changes in timing and key give this album the feeling that it holds more songs than it does. Examples of this can be heard in the first track on side B, “Shuggie”, with its steadily bubbling intro and verse melting away into the chaotic rises and falls of its chorus.
The final word on the album then, is that it really is quite enjoyable – the more you listen to it, the more and more you get out of it. Foxygen have achieved originality through carefully thought out and fresh sounding textural twists which conjur, but don’t rely on, the vintage sound of bands such as the Rolling Stones and the Velvet Underground. The minimalistic layering of effect-heavy guitars and pianos constitutes more than just a haphazard stab at sounding like a psychedelic sixties band and actually goes as far as convincing you that these lads have somehow defied their interaction with space and time, allowing them to go back and procure their sound in the summer of love and then return to present it to 21st century listeners. I would recommend it to anyone ranging from indie obsessed students to the more mature, open minded rockers with an ear for tasteful innovation within an increasingly neglected genre.