D’you remember the 60s?
D’you remember The Rolling Stones, when they were good? When they weren’t playing a never ending farewell tour?
D’you remember when MGMT promised to find supermodels for wives, move to Paris, shoot Heroin and fuck with the stars? Before they took all that acid and stepped out of the limelight to focus on artistic creativity?
If the answer to any, or all, of the above is no. Then let Foxygen remind you, or show you for the first time.
If the answer to any, or all, of the above is yes. Then let Foxygen take you back.
Now you might remember (don’t worry, I’ll be done with all this hyperbolic nostalgia in a moment) the last 6 More Bands You Should Be Listening To feature that I did. If you don’t then check it out, there’s some good stuff in there, and if you do you’ll remember this singing and songwriting duo.
Comprised of Sam France and Jonathan Rado, the pair are one of the latest signings to Jagjaguwar and on the verge of releasing this, their debut EP in July. However in the mean time, they’ve been ever so kind as to put it up on their Bandcamp profile for free streaming. Which means when you’re through reading this review, you can go check it out and see if I’m talking shit or not.
It’s a seven track EP, but it’s got a more than respectable runtime thanks to the duo not being afraid to leave their songs as long as they need to be. This includes a 10 minute track in the shape of Teenage Alien Blues.
As with another release I reviewed recently (Jon Lindsay’s Summer Wilderness Cavern), when listening to the tracks on offer here the influences are plain to see (hear) but they’re not at all derivative or derogatory to the listening experience or of the pair’s talent. However, they do really embrace their influences. Right down to the sound of the production.
Whilst the influences might be classic, the look vintage and the sound retro. It’s in the songwriting itself though that Foxygen’s youth and uniqueness really shines through. They take a far modern approach to structure and arrangement, with each song itself sporting proud variety and eclecticism.
Take Make It Known for example, the first song to come off this EP a few weeks back and the song that got me hooked. It starts reminiscent of Neil Diamond’s Girl You’ll Be a Woman Soon but with a Lou Reed penned drawl across it before it steadily builds tension and swagger with the vocals taking a Mick Jagger turn and the instrumentation coming over all Velvets jamming with The Stones. It repeatedly rises and falls, twists and turns, but stays catchy as hell.
Then you’ve got the title track which somehow manages to sound like David Bowie and Neil Diamond simultaneously jamming out the soundtrack to Little Shop of Horrors and Rocky Horror Picture Show, but the entirety of each crammed into three minutes odd. The tempo changes so often it’s dizzying but dazzling too.
Even the more restrained moments are flamboyant and overblown, like the could’ve been a ballad but it took too much cocaine and ended up sounding like Elton John jamming with The Stones, Waitin’ 4 U. Or Why Did I Get Married? which could almost have been lifted straight off Hunky Dory by Bowie, were it not for the occasional Bob Dylan inflection, hints of a detective film soundtrack and the psychedelic freak out that takes the song to its climax.
It’d be rude to not at least touch upon the previously mentioned 10 minute epic that is Teenage Alien Blues. A track that takes the pair’s natural flair for schizophrenically arranging their influences to its supernatural extreme. I mean one of the first clearly audible lyrics on the track is ‘Oh baby, I can barely walk… I got a head full of acid, I’ve seen babies talk…’ so you kind of get where this track particularly is coming from. Managing to go from the noisiest art rock clatter to psychedelic jams to sounding like The Doors, then The Rolling Stones, then The Velvet Underground, then The Kinks, then a rock ‘n’ roll musical and variations and combinations on all the above.
You can pre-order the EP on vinyl now and get an immediate free download. You can listen to it free on their Bandcamp right now. Then like me, you’ll be waiting eagerly for them to play anywhere near you.