Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Album review: FOXYGEN - We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic

Highlights: No Destruction, On The Blue Mountain, San Francisco, Oh Yeah, Oh No 2

I don’t know whether this is the corniest title they could think of, but if this was indeed Foxygen’s aim, then well done to them. Whereas the name of the band’s debut (last year’s brilliant Take The Kids Off Broadway) was actually quite effective and witty in a deliciously nonsensical sort of way, this one just makes the cynic inside me wince uncontrollably. Not that it should scare anyone away, of course.

As I was listening to Foxygen’s glorious mess of a debut last year, I kept telling myself that it would prove nothing more than a successful one-off pastiche. If they were going to do that all over again, the joke would wear thin no matter how strong the actual material would be.

Well, I’m relieved to say – no such problem here. We Are The 21st Century… is a much more settled down, mellower affair. And even if they do switch from one melody or groove to another several times in a matter of one minute (check out “Shuggie”), it still sounds surprisingly cohesive.

Basically, this album is made up of soulful, gorgeous, flower-pop balladry that still sounds like it was sung by the 60s Mick Jagger. “No Destruction”, for instance, is such a lazy Stones-y shuffle (as is “Oh Yeah”) that you could easily mistake it for a worthy Aftermath outtake. “San Francisco” is both laidback and incredibly infectious, while the closing epic “Oh No 2” is psychedelic, 60s-flavoured dream pop at its shimmering best (think of Montreal without the indulgences). They were clearly going for something more subdued here, and if the first time won’t seem too overwhelming, then further listens will certainly help you find some amazing songwriting behind each of these songs. In fact, the only time where the guys make a point of going off is the rip-roaring title track that shakes things up towards the very end of the album.

In the end, this album does lack the killer hooks and spontaneous, off-kilter punch of their debut (one of my absolute favourites from 2012), but I welcome the small change. They are still kids having fun, but they are growing, maturing kids having fun.


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