Foxygen – … And Star Power
By Gia Vescovi-Chiordi
I’ll be honest, I had to marinate over this one. It’s only appropriate when a genre-spanning, twenty-four track multi sectioned retrospective chronicle comes your way. But let me tell you a little bit about Foxygen first.
Foxygen (link) is a Los Angeles duo comprised of Sam France and Jonathan Rado, who began experimenting in high school back in 2005 with a motley of styles, genres and instruments. Predominantly focused on psychedelia and classic rock with moments of heavy handed sixties pop and avant-garde seasoned in smatterings of funk, France and Rado channel an idea of excess and multi-instrumental leanings in the zealous style of the era they evoke, with an exhaustive reservoir of influences to boot. With Velvet Underground/Flaming Lips notions, a few parts Pink Floyd and Carpenters-esque flare-ups, it’s possible to get a little lost in Foxygen, but that’s not entirely a bad thing.
Foxygen And Star Power (link) is a densely stuffed double LP, follow-up to Take the Kids Off Broadway and We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic (album titles that certainly give first glance insight to the bands’ M.O). Says Rado on the main outline, “It starts out as a classic Foxygen album, and then it’s gradually taken over by this band called Star Power. They’re from space. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s a loose concept.” And though Rado has been the primary composer, France’s vocals and pugnacious stage antics suggest that perhaps a little more thought goes into the entire scope than let on.
Foxygen and Star Power is a hectic mosaic and jilted patchwork of airy overtures, intense power pop, insensate lyrics and keys, so many keys. (Side note – I actually really dig the use of keys. They bolstered a lot of moments to a lustier level). It’s the kind of album where you expect too much and while it’s not a masterwork, it’s really solid overall and I admire France and Rado’s ability to throw so much at the wall and have a good amount stick. ‘How Can You Really’, the single released back in July is closer to ‘traditional’ (loosely used) Foxygen, with an engaging melody, established subject matter and a velvety falsetto throughout. A personal favorite of mine is ‘Everyone Needs Love’, which begins with an excellent example of the classic lovelorn sixties songstress before quickly building and tapering off into a back and forth between indulgent pacing and spacey guitar. The four part Foxygen and Star Power Suite is a cosmic acid trip that conjures definitive Nilsson and Bowie leanings with ‘What Are We Good For’ bringing a trilling call-out ensemble vibe (on which Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes makes a cameo, amongst a gaggle of others throughout the album).
Foxygen is genuinely good at appropriating sounds of the past and sometimes you just want something brand new that sounds old. Foxygen And Star Power has that in fervent, manic, ridiculous spades.
Featuring The Flaming Lips, Of Montreal, Bleached, White Fence, and more.
…And Star Power:
01 Star Power Airlines / 02 How Can You Really / 03 Coulda Been My Love / 04 Cosmic Vibrations / 05 You & I / 06 Star Power I: Overture / 07 Star Power II: Star Power Nite / 08 Star Power III: What Are We Good For / 09 Star Power IV: Ooh Ooh / 10 I Don’t Have Anything/The Gate / 11. Mattress Warehouse / 12 666 / 13 Flowers / 14 Wally’s Farm / 15 Cannibal Holocaust / 16 Hot Summer / 17 Cold Winter/Freedom / 18 Can’t Contextualize My Mind / 19 Brooklyn Police Station / 20 The Game / 21 Freedom II / 22 Talk / 23 Everyone Needs Love / 24 Hang