If ever there was a band to embrace ADD in music it’s Foxygen. Consisting of members Sam France from Olympia, Washington, and Jonathan Rado, the mean streets of N.Y.C.; Foxygen took a series of snippets they recorded in 2011, spliced them together into a surprisingly coherent debut album entitled Take the Kids Off Broadway. The bulk of the recordings are heavily influenced by 60’s and 70’s artists like David Bowie, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground, and Neil Young; all while channeled through the preferred medium of fuzz folk. While the album does display a schizophrenic nature, it’s surprisingly focused into a 35+ minute tribute to an influential era.
2013 finds Foxygen back with a set of tracks that still dwell within sixties psych-pop, but this time they’re a lot less complicated, you know, so they can do it live! Despite the changes, Foxygen prove that they’re excellent song crafters with the nine tracks presented on their sophomore album We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. Granted, we knew that they could, it’s just, this time there is no glitchy patch jobs or schizophrenia, instead it’s psychedelia, and it’s awesome!
It’s rare to find a band that has to change up its songwriting style to suit its touring mates, but it’s that idea that lends part of the inspiration to this album. It almost feels at times like the band are stuck on the previous albums concept with songs like “Bowling Trophies,” which just meanders for less than two minutes, feeling like it could have been an unused outtake from Off Broadway. Foxygen make up for it with the subsequent track, “Shuggie,” which opens with a lazy little trumpet, accompanied by a slow steady beat. A bit of that Off Broadway mentality returns as the song changes up at the chorus to a more up tempo number, even dance-y. “No Destruction” displays a little bit of country in the style of the Birds or the early Velvet Underground, as France makes bat-shit crazy lyrics about boxing subway cars and talking with his grandmother, who lost her arms in an alien war, sound so inviting. And the vocals on the track “Oh Yeah” are so Robert Plant/Mick Jagger influenced that you’ll get confused.
We Are the 21st Century… is a statement that any band can adapt itself into what it needs to be, while achieving all that it wants to. This time around, Foxygen are tight…super tight. Their chops are so focused in the past that it will be hard to distinct between the artists that inspired them. Despite that fact, this is not your parents band; these kids are having fever dreams that your parents could sparsely comprehend, and they’re writing songs in ways and styles that those that influenced them were years from discovering. The grand experiment has proven itself a mainstay, just leave the Illuminati references out of this album’s artwork conspiracy theorists!
Album Rating: Stream It or Digitally Download It
Listener Co-efficient: Active Listen
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