Review Summary: Bedroom pop that puts "Fireflies" in its place eight times over.
Warren Hildebrand, or rather, Foxes in Fiction, and his influences have been touted as innovative and diverse lately in the underground scene, causing him to come off as left-field in a variety of genres and styles all to his own. It's nothing to scoff at though; it's not ostentation nor falsehood; the excessive range he toys with is true to him, and more importantly, his sound. On Swung From the Branches
, the interpretation of his muses's styles is immediate, but doused in that Hildebrand intricacy. He begins this mammoth album by rethinking Stars of the Lid and "spastic introversion." Still, the songs are near-recitations, showing Hildebrand's knack for creating pretty, major-chord droners. He occasionally pops out of his rabbit-hole, though, by toying with electronic drum beats and a seven-minute Bukowski soliloquy. He then promptly slinks back underground - folding into himself, if you will.
But finally, Hildebrand reveals a more extroverted Foxes in Fiction when, on "Mialectric," he begins to toy with noise and lo-fi elements, all wrapped up in a dreamy pop package. He continues to open himself up from here, exposing himself to all sorts of styles, emotions, and techniques. This is where he adopts a shoegaze aesthetic, rooted in a My Bloody Valentine fascination and The Velvet Underground's dronology. But this doesn't keep him away from songs like, "15 Ativan (Song for Erika)," where he plays an African guitar figure, a trait completely removed from the morosely final "Snow Angels" and the more timbral "To Go Home."
Swung From the Branches
also shows Hildebrand experimenting with the organic and unbelievably manufactured. "New Panic Cure" is a song of eery uncertainty, using two guitar chords and nonchalant electronically-enhance vocals to express a sterile, but absorbing state of mind. As well, the man behind the mix shows his knack for fluid synth and percussive loops throughout. For those who have ever questioned whether or not electronics have souls, listen to "Memory Pools" and bid farewell to your skepticism. The synthesis of short-note scores and the equally involving, but far more timbral and melancholic lulls is something utterly engrossing and deeply human, two characteristics which transfer over to his lyrical stance.
Hildebrand's lyrics feel more like a poetic autobiography than anything else, with subject matter as wide-ranged as his styles. On "Bronte Balloons," he questions whether or not his changing perception is caused by drug abuse or maturation. On a completely different note, "Coffee Cups that Won't Break Down" pertains to the pains of "being in the middle of obsessive, unrequited love and knowing your feeling won't be returned and that they're destructive, but in knowing that, your attraction grows."* The subject matter gets no less disparate as time goes on, referencing inside jokes, his brother's untimely death, and (what else?) the sex slave industry. It's an interesting combination, almost as much so as Hildebrand's ability to integrate all these elements into a coherent piece.
You'd think Swung From the Branches
would be a genre-hopping effort, but it avoids the "syncretic" tag by somehow coherently fusing these genres. The beginning's lulls slowly disappear and foreshadow the indie bliss that's to come by growing fuzzier and more vibrant as time floats away. Tracks start to incorporate other elements which segue beautifully into their successors, coming across as a natural inclusion of his take on the old, and not a trite grab at juxtaposition. It's this quality about Swung From the Branches
that makes it such a fluid and interesting slice of experimental pie, and the fact that Hildebrand's all about personality makes it cool, too.
Instead of a long-winded pretension, Swung From the Branches
takes a more personal approach to music, not hiding behind any mirrors. He realizes what he enjoys and finds a way to incorporate all of the aspects to his sound; it sounds true, like his lyrics, like him. He's not cashing in on any fads, and this believability is probably one of the best aspects of his debut. Not only is it conceptually brilliant, but entirely inviting, as well, showing the immense talent Hildebrand already has in his hands. It will only be a matter of time before he creates something truly spectacular by expanding on his concepts. Still, Swung From the Branches
isn't just some rough draft for this masterpiece - on its own it shines, and it shines bright.
*A quote taken from his myspace blog