23 Apr 2017

Hang: Some Late Thoughts On The Return Of Foxygen

Foxygen are a band that’s known for producing a blast from the past. Their second album We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic (deep breath), was a brilliantly put together 60s pastiche and a great collection of work.

Predominately, lead singer Sam France applied his clear admiration for The Rolling Stones to many of the songs on the album with his Jagger-esque foibles. The record was filled with elements of pop, psych, soul and of course classic rock, with multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Rado helping to create an album that fans of the The Kinks and the Stones would more than appreciate.

What followed was the 24-song release: And.. Star Power - a collection, of again, 60s influenced songs that no one can be fucked to listen to.

Still, the Todd Rundgren-inspired How Can You Really and Coulda Been My Love are two of the bands most impressive releases, so who really gives a shit if it sounds like a tribute to their favourite artists? Besides, everyone is pretty much just a copy of someone else, and you’d rather listen to a band imitating artists from the 60s over bands like Peace and Superfood's pale imitations of Britpop, especially seeing as Foxygen do it so masterfully.

After rumours of numerous fallouts and rock 'n' roll cliches, the L.A duo’s newish album (it was released on the 20th January, bit late I know) Hang, arrived with a much easier to digest eight tracks. Very listenable.

The track opener Follow the Leader is a typically Foxygen pop-driven tune where France’s vocals have never been as strong. The frontman again applies his Jagger-isms on the albums stand out track, that combines nicely with Rado’s brilliant keyboard skills. The band then delve even deeper into American music history; taking a surprise bit of inspiration from 1930s Jazz, which is evident on the schizophrenic America. The pantomime-like song frantically changes pace with the help of a 30-piece orchestra. France switches from Bowie to Lou Reed on a track, that alone, shows the talent that the two must possess. Also, as someone who can’t play along to a click-track for shit, I can imagine how the drummer could’ve had a nightmare recording this one.

On Lankershim was the third single to be released from the album, notable for its twinkly keys that are almost identical to Elton John’s in Tiny Dancer. And with France again giving us his best Bowie impression, Foxygen show us they are still more than happy to quite obviously display their influences.

Like Follow the Leader, the albums closing track Rise Up makes sure Foxygen’s classic sound still remains with their infectious guitar licks. The band have never seemed to be too fussed about the meaning of their lyrics, with France, on previous albums, singing about subjects that would make Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds seem fairly standard. But to France’s credit, he does seem to expand his thoughts to darker horizons. For example, the frontman is “hanging from a rope” in the low-pitched Mrs.Adams. France may also even be expressing political views (kind of) - on America, he passionately yells: “If you’re already there/then you’re already dead/if you’re living in America.”

What I really admire about this release, is despite the (deservedly) poor reviews for And..Star Power, the band didn’t didn’t just retreat to the comfort of their second album. The duo expanded their sound by unexpectedly combing historical styles of American music, such as Jazz, with the volatile 60s rock that had made them so popular. It's an unexpected move that has certainly paid off. But y'know, if it’s a bit too weird for ya, listen to your dad, and go get one of Ketfish and the Bottlemen’s really awesome albums. You know, proper music.


(Words: Joseph Forte)