Review Summary: This album marks a shift in gears for Foxy, from the more manic energy of their past albums to something more quietly anthemic.
Foxy Shazam is a band constantly reinventing itself. Their constantly evolving style is particularly polarizing amongst fans, especially considering the fact that the band initially appealed to post-hardcore fans before slowly shifting in a popper, glam rock direction. The Church of Rock and Roll
is the latest step on that ladder. And while it's less pop-oriented than their 2010 self-titled album, some might be surprised by just how subdued it is. The songs on this album are, for the most part, devoid of the manic energy that Foxy Shazam has been known for. That energy has been replaced by a new, slow, anthemic Foxy. And, surprisingly, it works.
"Welcome to the Church of Rock and Roll," is a bold statement to begin the album. "Your music sucks including us / It's time we cleared our name," frontman Eric Nally sings on the track, promising yet another dramatic sonic change. "All you suckers are a flock of sheep / I'll be your shepherd, follow me." It's the best track on the album, though with a running time of 2:09, it's way too short. "I Like It," "Holy Touch," and "Last Chance at Love," work along the similar, loud-and-fast vein that's reminiscent of bands like Queen and The Darkness (whose singer Justin Hawkins produced the album). Choirs of backup singers give these early tracks a big, operatic vibe, and they're the strongest on the album. After track 4, though, the album shifts gears.
"Forever Together" is a mid-tempo, subdued song that is a rather surprising number. After all, though we glanced this side of Foxy with the 2010 track "Evil Thoughts," the band has never been so quiet (the song is largely acoustic). Quiet, anthemic songs like "Forever Together" and "Wasted Feelings" dot the album's second half, and while they're fun, only "Wasted Feelings" reaches its real potential (and decibel level).
"The Temple" sees a return to the heavier elements that opened the album, though it's much darker in tone. "The Streets" is a funky, anthemic song that is slightly reminiscent of Three Dog Night. "Freedom" closes the album out with a Springsteen-style ode to, well, freedom.
The album makes great use of Alex Nauth, which is surprising considering that trumpet doesn't generally have a place in the style of rock the band is emulating. Pianist Sky White, on the other hand, is largely and regrettably absent from the tracks, and he's really only audible if you listen closely for him.
Those looking for more bombastic fare from Foxy will likely skip through the middle part of the album, but they'll be missing some solid tunes. Though it doesn't bear the same energy of previous albums, The Church of Rock and Roll
is still an essential part of the Foxy catalogue. It introduces us, once again, to a new side of the multi-faceted band. It's a side that might not be as loud or as outrageous, but it's still a side that can make damn good music.
Best Tracks: Welcome to the Church of Rock and Roll, Holy Touch, Wasted Feelings