Album Reviews

Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic

(Jagjaguwar) UK release date: 21 January 2013

foxygen Foxygen are the LA duo Sam Fance and Jonathon Rado, who met a decade ago at school. During these early days they started recording their wacky jams, which has apparently added up to 12 albums’ worth of material.

A project that could have easily become lost in the past remained in sharp focus for Sam and Jonathon as they gifted Shins member Richard Swift a demo at New York’s Mercury Lounge. This led to them becoming signed with Jagjaguwar and releasing their debut EP Take The Kids Off Broadway, as well as delivering their bonkers live show, which has all added to the recent attention surrounding their first full length release We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic.

Just like The Horrors, it is obvious Foxygen have consumed a huge amount of records from the golden groups of the yesteryears. These Los Angelinos have clearly spent their time exploring the best the past has to offer, which can be heard in their sound as they recreate the best bits of the past decades. However it is the fresh twist that Foxygen put on their songs that make them so exuberant and enjoyable.

The psych rock revival is in full flow as musicians drape themselves in paisley shirts and fidget away during live shows as if they are on some bizarre acid trip. There is a clear formula for success within this genre though, the ability to stamp your own sound on a previous generations. This is exactly what Foxygen achieve on We Are The 21st Century… as they craft their very own oddball niche. It is not very often you hear an album oozing with fun, as normally musicians are a sullen bunch of perfectionists. These two are the complete opposite though, as their mischievous moments shine brightly, the best example is the hugely entertaining title track, which is a thrilling garage rock stomp that rivals the wild wig-outs Pond produced last year.

There are instants in which Foxygen seem to perform in a tongue and cheek style, especially when Sam Fance delivers his best Mick Jagger impression on Oh Yeah, as this vocal delivery style mixes with irresistible grooves reminiscent of MGMT, whilst Shuggie mixes blissed out soul music and an eccentric hippy chorus that sounds as if it should have been delivered at Worthy Farm many years ago.

For all the fun and eccentricities it is often easy to see past the gifted musicians that Foxygen are. During On Blue Mountain they seem to combine about a dozen different songs into a skilfully chaotic track, which soars to the greatest heights the album reaches and has the check to rips off Elvis Presley’s Suspicious Minds. San Francisco is the standout moment of the album as it flutters along with calming twinkles of a xylophone and demonstrates the ease at which they can create simplistic yet effective hooks. It is the mellowest and most laid back song we have heard from duo so far, evoking visions of sitting on a beach watching the sun go down, whilst the dying embers of a campfire slowly burn out.

Often it feels like 21st Century… is going to collapse due to its imperfections, but the duo always seem to fall and on their feet as these moments become little loveable blemishes. Yet despite the strength of this first offering, you can’t help but feel Foxygen haven’t quite reached their full potential. They may not be the highly innovative band that people crave, but they have achieved great success channelling their influences into their very own sound. They may at first appear to be a band rooted in the past, but they are very much one for the future.

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More on Foxygen
Foxygen – Seeing Other People
Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic