Foxygen

Hang

Jagjaguwar

Jan 18, 2017 Issue # 59 - 15th Anniversary Bookmark and Share


Find It At: AMAZON

We've come a long way in the five short years since Foxygen's breakout release, Take the Kids Off Broadway: a gloriously all-over-the-place disc of psych-pop and endearingly lo-fi rock freak-outs. Two more increasingly ambitious records followed in rapid succession... and then nothing. After such a prolific spillage of music, Jonathan Rado and Sam France took what for most any other musician would be a normal break between albums. Three years later comes Hang, an album that feels like a natural outgrowth from Foxygen's aggressively humble beginnings and a near-perfect execution of the ideas the duo have been playing with throughout their existence. 

Hang is these two kooks backed by a 40-piece orchestra; it's in the style of one of those unnecessarily grandiose '60s pop records you'd find at a church rummage sale and featuring the smiling face of Johnny Rivers or Nancy Sinatra. In less sure hands all of these horns, strings, and backup singers would be overkill, but Foxygen have never lacked confidence: they take bullish command of this army of musicians with help from talented folks like Matthew E. White, Trey Pollard, Steven Drozd, and The Lemon Twigs. As in the past, there's joy in trying to pick out the influences: lead single "America" is a dramatic, shifting suite; you can hear a little bit of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's or "A Day In the Life," but also the wankier tendencies of The Moody Blues or Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. There's a lot of earnest crooning ("Follow the Leader," "Mrs. Adams"), but on Hang there are many moments where the stance feels as much inspired by artists like Elton John, Randy Newman, or America as from Mick Jagger ("On Lankershim," "Avalon"). This is a pointedly unhip album, and that's part of what makes it so refreshing. Few other artists would embark on a project so absurdly lavish in fear that one wrong step would result in curdled cheese; Foxygen, thankfully, aren't so damn afraid. (www.foxygentheband.com)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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