Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic
It’s always summer somewhere. This could be Foxygen’s motto. In the depths of a northern-hemisphere winter, Foxygen have released a blast of warm air and all-embracing sunshine. Nothing could be more welcome. More laid back than Ty Segall, Ariel Pink or Darwin Deez, Foxygen indulge themselves in 37 minutes of slacker psych. The influences are there for all to hear. ‘San Francisco’ is the west coast cousin of Village Green or Arthur-era Kinks. The title track is a missing mid-60s gem by The Rolling Stones. The chorus from ‘On Blue Mountain’ doesn’t so much resemble ‘Suspicious Minds’ as pass itself off as its long-lost twin brother come back to claim some of the copyright. In some hands, all of these influences would generate a soon-forgotten pastiche of an album. Here, though, they live side-by-side in the same song, in the same verse, sometimes in the same line as original Foxygen material. And that’s because each track is buzzing with ideas. So, even if the chorus on ‘On Blue Mountain’ does sound suspiciously like a well-known Elvis song, none of the rest of the track does. It’s three, four, five songs in one. It’s a lot to take in. And that’s the very beauty of the album. You keep desperately wishing, hoping, imploring them to give each song more structure, to make it cohere. But it’s the looseness, the agglomeration of ideas that makes it such a compelling listen. Maybe one day Foxygen will be a stadium band, belting out beautifully crafted and utterly boring sing-along anthems. Maybe they’ll end up like The Darkness, a parody of a band lost in a sea of influences. Maybe, though, they’ll continue to walk the fine line between imitation and innovation.