There is a sense of erudition that comes with listening to a hitherto unknown artist — a sense of having listened to music before it becomes a shower sing-along. Indie-rock duo Foxygen’s latest album, entitled Hang, arouses that very sentiment.
Founded in 2005 by then-high school students Jonathan Rado and Sam France, the band released a quartet of EPs before being signed in 2011. Their subsequent offerings, Take the Kids Off Broadway and We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, experimented vociferously with psychedelic rock, synth-based riffs and a healthy sprinkling of MGMT-style melodies.
Hang, released Jan. 20, has all the potential strappings of being the record that threatens and successfully smashes the band’s near-anonymity, even if a boatload could still be improved upon.
A debut album’s success could be written off as being created by a fortuitous schmuck. A sophomore album could perform exceedingly well because of its predecessor’s so-called lucky break. The third album, though, is a palpitation-inducing evaluation of said schmuck’s true talent.
Rapper Isaiah Rashad dominates Madison’s stage, proves his talentsWith the kick-off of spring semester finally under way, Wisconsin Union Directorate music was quick to start off with a bang. Opener Read…
Thankfully, Foxygen are less of talentless schmucks and more nuanced artists, which is made abundantly clear from the get-go.
“Follow the Leader,” the opening track, combines the light yet gritty Jagger-esque tone of France’s voice with overarching strings, horns and a bass that exemplifies unbelievable — and there’s no other word for it — chill. The far mellower “On Lankershim” is wont to a gentle caress of horns. France’s vocals are fused perfectly with the background singers’ to create a wistful and nostalgic melody.
Having been full-time musicians for the better part of a decade, the duo’s maturity is put on full display, particularly in the heartbroken swagger of “Trauma.” France displays his Brendon Urie-esque range, switching from baritone to falsetto with pleasantly surprising quickness.
Cherry Glazerr’s new album proves to be difficult a listen, but important to hearIn their new album Apocalipstick, Cherry Glazerr is not pressured to conform to the popular style of contemporary music and Read…
Rado’s instrumentals combine with the swirl of horns, strings, guitars and drums at the end to induce an orgasmic high whilst simultaneously conjuring up images of a doleful man in a tuxedo with an untied bowtie and a whisky crooning at a speakeasy. Lyrics like, “How can I love you if I don’t know who you are,” mark a cheerful transition into the business of thought-provocation. This is stylish. This is mature.
This article previously mentions the phrase “potential strappings.” The emphasis there, however, is on “potential.”
The music, while thoroughly enjoyable, borders on being a pastiche — a glorious tribute, but a tribute nonetheless, to a graceful cacophony of Frank Sinatra, the Rolling Stones, MGMT and even Michael Bublé.
While the music is maniacally fast-paced and tenderly delicate, and this is expressly displayed in the kooky yet hedonistic on-stage shenanigans of the band, the music is not unique. Being heavily influenced by artists is perfectly acceptable — Oasis essentially strived for 20 years to be the next Beatles — but you have to put your own spin on it. Oasis did. Foxygen didn’t.
“America,” Foxygen’s perhaps-political-perhaps-not offering, states, “If you’re already there / Then you’re already dead.” Sinatra has already been there. So has MGMT. Foxygen’s elegant sophistication in mashing infinite musical influences sprinkles grace onto music that should resemble a musical hernia.
To do so, however, without adding anything new for the listener is, ultimately, forgettable. Rado and France will have to delve deeper if they don’t want Foxygen’s career to be hanged for elegant plagiarism — poor pun fully intended.