...And Star Power
Oct 10, 2014 Issue #51 - September/October 2014 - alt-J
In an interview just before the release of their official debut full-length, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, Foxygen's lead singer Sam France said, "On our next album we're gonna completely promote it like I've gone insane or I'm in a mental institution." France didn't know at the time that the following year—the sudden popularity, backlash, media scrutiny, cancelled tours, slanderous blog posts, and thoroughly broken legs—would be enough to actually drive him bonkers. Apparently it did, and the 24-song bizarro rock odyssey ...And Star Power is Foxygen's letter from the psych ward.
The breezy sway of lead single "How Could You Really" is about as close as this record gets to the playful pop accessibility of Ambassadors. It's more akin to the stylistic sprawl of 2012's EP Take the Kids Off Broadway and the madcap goofiness of Jurrassic Exxplosion Philippic, one of the many self-released albums Foxygen made in high school. It's a record that is self-consciously juvenile, from the dissonant trumpet-fart at the end of "Flowers" to the rambling, acid-brained coda of "Cold Winter/Freedom" that mentions "a million dead dogs in space, in spaceships, floating around, listening to Led Zeppelin."
All the warbled tape feedback, two-minute instrumental suites and general horseplay of Star Power will test the patience of those more prone to the polished "San Francisco" and "Shuggie" side of Foxygen, but between the psychedelic sound collages are some moments that really sparkle. Take the verses of "Star Power III: What Are We Good For" when France recites deadpan poetry in the style of a stony Lou Reed, or in the celebratory chorus of "Brooklyn Police Station."
It's not as immediately rewarding as Ambassadors, and at times can feel a bit self-indulgent. But it's hard to fault them, because listening to Star Power gives you the sense that they accomplished exactly what they set out to do: reconnect with the sense of play and reckless curiosity they had when they were teenagers in the garage, messing around with a 4-track and trying to make each other laugh. (www.foxygentheband.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 9/10
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