By: Derek Jung
Four albums and five years into their musical careers, Foxygen continue to redefine their sound with every release. Their last album, the abysmal ...And Star Power, was especially disappointing because it was the followup to one of my favorite records of 2013, We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. Whereas We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic was scatterbrained, an accurate portrayal of the band's live show, they balanced it with great songwriting and production. ...And Star Power lost all of that. On top of being incredibly boring from start to finish, the production was muddled and the songwriting was subpar. I was beginning to doubt that they'd be able to match anything near their sophomore release, however Hang proved me very, very wrong.
By the first ten seconds of the album, it's clear that there's been another drastic production shift for the band. Wearing his Mick Jagger influences on his chest, lead singer Sam France swaggers through album opener "Follow The Leader", which features a beautifully arranged orchestral solo and strings and horns throughout. Many songs on the album have a distinct showtune flair to them. "Avalon" is the first example of this on the album. I honestly expected a dancing interlude to break out at some point during the song. You can even hear some faint tapping in the background. It's a great effect that's executed tastefully.
Lead single "America" soars over everything the band has attempted previously in terms of pure compositional ambition. It's just the anthem that the listener needs in the middle of the album, and the adventure that awaits is exciting, with a number of unexpected twists and turns. The middle section bounces back and forth between soft, elegant instrumentation and pounding drums. There's even a classic swing section that almost made me spit out my drink laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. But that's where Foxygen thrives, in the ridiculous, and there's more of it on Hang than any of their albums to date. When French and Rado rein it in their crazy just enough, they're in the zone. That zone encompasses about two thirds of Hang. There are moments where they go off the deep end, like on "Trauma", which, besides being about two minutes too long, highlights French's vocal shortcomings with dramatic effect. It's pretty unlistenable. But maybe the point is to create trauma for the listener. That'd be deep. Beyond that, however, this is one of the few spots of poor songwriting on an otherwise brilliantly written and composed album.
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here.