Foxygen
We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors...


2.5
average

Review

by derho USER (30 Reviews)
January 24th, 2013 | 26 replies | 1,648 views


Release Date: 01/22/2013 | Tracklist


7 of 8 thought this review was well written

As I sat on my bed listening to Foxygen’s sophomore effort, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck perk up. “We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic” is the name of the record. On the front cover, a sketchy rendition of the third eye shot rays of campy wisdom straight to my heart. That’s when it hit me. Just by approaching this album from a critical perspective, I had already set my foot in a big, figurative pile of ***. You’ll hear this album called “derivative”. Different people will say it different ways. Some might laud its “myriad of influences”, while others might label it “uninspired knock-off trash”. Here’s the clever part (I’d feel sick if I said “genius”): no matter what, Foxygen win.

More on that later. Let’s talk content.

Though they share fatal flaws, this record is certainly not the same as its predecessor, 2011's “Take the Kids Off Broadway.” Granted, it’s only about 20 seconds longer, maintaining the sort of short attention-span operation that plagues many of their peers. That being said, the song structures are significantly less manic. Only “On Blue Mountain” maintains that jarring, broken-spoke jumpiness that made the first album a bit interesting. In fact, the whole thing seems more commercially packaged. The production is more pronounced, but that doesn’t mean better. It shifts from track to track to track, much like the vocals, showing a proficiency in establishing the desired mood but a lack of inspiration and direction. There’s nothing here like the soft horns that filled “Broadway” which, at best interesting and at worst unobtrusive, added a bit of unity to the whole product.

The guys are clearly fixated with “getting” the period of rock & roll history they’re addressing (approx. 1967-1977, emphasis on the first year). Unfortunately, understanding and recreating what were authentic movements is no paint-by-numbers ordeal. The Love-esque shining-bells melody of “San Francisco” plays like a B-grade lullaby without Arthur Lee’s genius. “Oh Yeah” attempts to remake the simple pulp beauty of T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan’s lyricisms, but there’s no magic. “These arms and legs/bacon and eggs” stands no chance when put up against Bolan gems like “Under the bebop moon/I’m howlin’ like a loon”. Even on the most cathartic moments of “No Destruction”, where the vocals descend into strained Dylan-rips that would, at face value, fit in perfectly somewhere on “Blonde on Blonde,” there’s no pain… almost no feeling conveyed through the grooves.

This is the part where Foxygen laugh at me. They are, after all, the 21st century ambassadors of peace and magic. They’re not taking any of this seriously, so why am I? All across the record, they drop hints. Hell, they basically slap you in the face. “We know this is rehash. We know it’s nothing new. What are you going to scold us?” Yes. But maybe not the way you think. I get the irony. Ha ha. The way they go from inflections of their idols to borderline copyright infringement. It’s all very nice. It’s incredibly safe. They’re untouchable. Criticism can be written off to a lack of getting it, basically. And praise? Well, what major rock publication would want to be accused of not “getting it”?

I don’t hate Foxygen. Generational trends like these, clinging to irony to shelter yourself from criticism, from innovation, and, ultimately, from thinking at all, that’s what I hate. I’m a victim and a culprit as much as they, but I won’t go around pretending to praise it or be duped by it. We have to get over our terrified aversion to honesty so that we can once again reach a point when it isn’t ridiculous to imagine a contemporary artist writing something as poignant and stark as Dylan’s “I Want You” without snickering; When a potentially touching song like “Shuggie” doesn’t have to be saddled with some ridiculous camp-garage-B-film-funk breakdown to remind us that Foxygen’s just jokin’ around. We have to stop planning our every move based on planting safeguards to prevent people from saying to us, in the simple English that’s become so unfashionable, “you’re wrong.”

5/10



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user ratings (188)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Didi Maco (3)
Legendary OP dafuq?...

Killerhit (4.5)
Oh but the door of consciousness isn't open anymore....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Anthracks
January 23rd 2013



3639 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

wow you're edgy

Digging: Tobacco - Ultima II Massage

derho
January 23rd 2013



306 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

lol

Anthracks
January 23rd 2013



3639 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

ps take the kids off broadway was released in 2011

derho
January 23rd 2013



306 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

thanks, edited

Anthracks
January 23rd 2013



3639 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

i don't know who put it in the database but it's not an ep either

derho
January 23rd 2013



306 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

same person who made the wikipedia entry, presumably hahah

ILJ
January 23rd 2013



6542 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pretty damn good review.

Digging: The Hotelier - Home, Like NoPlace Is There

derho
January 23rd 2013



306 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

thanks man.

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2013



5923 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

good way to put it, i agree with most of your points, have a pos

Cygnatti
January 24th 2013



19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

D:

Digging: Lo-Fang - Blue Film

sonicExplorer
January 24th 2013



26 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

good album, better review. i think you fought the battle and won on the "this album isn't amazing" front but didn't quite rationalize the 2.5. it's still, on its face, enjoyable, good music.

derho
January 24th 2013



306 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

thanks for the pos's guys. Sorry cyg : ( yeah sonic I see what you mean. It was really hard for me to enjoy the album at all
with so many casual or direct rips of artists and songs that I hold dear, but I'm not gonna tell anyone they're wrong for
thinking the album has some merit as an enjoyable piece of music. I stand by the rating but I guess I could have justified
it more?

Killerhit
January 24th 2013



4492 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pretty good review even I though wholeheartedly disagree with next to all of your claims, and as a result I will relentlessly fuck with you your entire life until you end it in a rampant fit of psychologically damaged abject despondency.

Have a fucking good day, vindictively yours,
Killerhit.

Have a pos

derho
January 24th 2013



306 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

thanks br0 sorry we feel so differently. try and restrain your violent urges

Anthracks
January 24th 2013



3639 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

just because a sound is indicative of a movement in the past (psychedelic music) doesn't mean that it can't be created today, or that bands in those days were any less derivative of seminal bands. it's a common criticism for anything that emulates a preterit sound. the way i see it, they are making music that they are fully passionate about, and no one can claim otherwise.

people focus too much on influences and not enough on the actual melodies and songcraft. yes the lyrics are bad, but the music is great and doesn't explicitly rip off any extant artist. unless you consider a similar voice to be plagiarism. i much prefer that this type of music doesn't stay a vestige of the past, and i would like to see every movement preserved in some way

derho
January 24th 2013



306 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

His voice goes from dylan to lou reed to mick jagger to van morrison to john lennon, sometimes within one song. There's very little cohesion. Instead it's just a sampling of songs that each draw from a specific album (the opener - Sgt. pepper, "no destruction" - blonde on blonde, "san francisco" - da capo) or even a specific song (compare "Oh yeah" to t rex's "mambo sun") from the past. There's no modern spin to it. At best they add synths/drum machines that weren't available to the artists in their time but were available just a few years later. Of course all rock music is derived from the past, but this is uninspired, and, yeah, refer to the review I guess. Stone roses did a good job reviving the 60s because they did it in their own way. Same with tame impala's lonerism to a certain extent.

derho
January 24th 2013



306 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

also forgot to mention suicide's alan vega, who he does an okay job of impersonating on the title track.

Anthracks
January 24th 2013



3639 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

i don't think he sounds like any of those people other than mick jagger. i think you're looking for comparisons just to have something to detract. i also don't think his voice ever shifts except when he starts yelling, and then he still sounds like jagger

derho
January 24th 2013



306 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niXMYI-ORzQ

2:58 - you want to tell me he doesn't sound like dylan? And those keys in the background and slash-y guitars don't sound exactly like blonde on blonde?
for example:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGN8lpDCfEw
go to the chorus at :40

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Gli2cvxjts
vs.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9_zm5c07XU

that ain't mick jagger.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNXZd303TjQ
vs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGLJoXpKo4U

and for argument's sake:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpoRPNHDd9U
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koFM5paYEmM

derho
January 24th 2013



306 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this too:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtdWGGpvY1s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fVehIM-iw8



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