Review Summary: A nod to the past, a step into the future.
People always seem to be divided on the subject of who’s generation has the best music, or had the most impact and character. Some will rejoice over the noisy, experimental music gracing the airwaves today. Meanwhile others remember a simpler time featuring reverb drenched production and arena sized synths. Foxygen remembers the past, as well as the present and uses the best of both to create a niche sound.
It is hard to deny Foxygen find much of their roots in old school music sporting a pretty large David Bowie influence mixing in some trance inducing grooves and immense walls of light hearted, absorbing melodies alike that found in psychedelic rock. The fluttery pianos soars, synths drone and simmer in the heat of chaos and the production at times feels delightfully dated.
While in opposition to this the soundscape is loud, chaotic and often noisy even in times when not much more than acoustic guitar is being plucked the music always feels very rich and filled to the brim. Foxygen do whatever they do with confidence, no matter what silly lyric or line they spit out it feels like they genuinely mean it and on a scale of that found in an arena. Acoustics aren't the only thing Foxygen have up their sleeve, in fact far from it. Instrumentation is in mass abundance on this EP featuring various brass instruments on many of the tracks. As clean and poppy this album can be at times it can also be jaded, and noisy in sections where instrumental dueling and bouncing occurs such as the interplay between piano and guitar on ‘Waiting 4 U’ and the droning, slow burning synth of ‘Abandon My Toys’ against the brass instruments reminiscent of something you’d expect from Neutral Milk Hotel. This band isn’t set in one vein, they are willing to experiment all over the map.
One of the biggest challenges in creating an album as sonically large as Foyxgen has is maintaining strong songwriting through all the mix of sounds. I am happy to report that this EP fully manages to realize direction while maintaining chaos. The confidence Foxygen radiates really makes you feel assured that they are in full control at all times whether it be clean or gritty, slow or absolute insane. Many of the songs start off flying out of the gates making you wonder how they can maintain such a momentum and still have any sense of accurate direction. However they manage to pull it off through the addition and subtraction of layers, peeling away or adding layers and all the interplaying allow for gradual slowdowns or speed ups in such tiny, meticulous ways that before you know it the song has completely found itself in another place. The transition from one place to another is so smooth that all feels purposeful and cohesive.
One could not talk about this album without mentioning the vocal talent of Sam France. Not only is his vocals smooth and do a great service to the music but the sheer amount of diversity found in the vocals is incredible. Whether it baroque as found on ‘Make It Known’, gone wild screaming or soaring old school rock out vocals there is a lot to be found. France also knows when to restrain and let the music wash over. In the more psychedelic moments the vocals are pushed further back in the mix and beautifully croon out from below the waves of sound to add more to the atmosphere.
Don’t forget about those drums. Although synths, droning and brass are all present- Foxygen is still a rock band at heart. Drums are often quite loud in the mix, and are very atmospheric in the music doing all sorts of unexpected fills and always jumping to nod assurance to the rest of the mix.
Foxygen work everything into their sound from baroque, to distorted fuzzy garage rock and slow burning stoner rock to all around chaos. It is not only their sheer amount of diversity that makes them special but it is knowing how to have restraint within commotion and effortlessly flaunt the best of old and new that make their future look bright.