das foxygen album ist schon irgendwie cool. total zusammengeklaut, aber cool.
While each track would certainly work as a straight-up guitar-rocker, it’s Rado’s gentle piano chords that truly make them complete. Light, bluesy keys drive the music along throughout the record, from the phenomenal opening track “In The Darkness,” to the unexpected switch-flipping tempo changes of “On Blue Mountain” and “Shuggie.”
The added dimension of the piano is matched with truly inspired production throughout, as bells, horns, strings and handclaps pop up all over the record, whenever they’re welcome. These added quirks and flourishes never feel overbearing or cutesy – rather, they keep the sound positive and the music consistently interesting by balancing the old-timey feel with a modern array of sounds.
Foxygen’s charm wears off just a bit by the last two songs, which don’t quite meet the others in the accessibility department. On the title track, France wears his influences too heavily on his sleeve, stuttering and screaming in a manner that will appeal only to those who miss old-school punk-rock the most. Album closer “Oh No 2” shows the band trying its hand at experimental, psychedelic stuff and only slightly succeeding.
The song is saved, however, by a piano-and-vocals finale that calls to mind Abbey Road’s famous conclusion. Even the last lyrics mimic McCartney, as France sings in an airy falsetto: ““If you believe in love, everything you see is love.”
Nostalgia rock can be tiring, as certain sounds become trendy for short periods of time, only to go away as quickly as they came (lo-fi surf-rock comes to mind). But with We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, Foxygen is a breath of fresh air, reviving a vintage style of songwriting in a new and creative fashion.
The best songs on 21st Century are the ones that dig into the grimier and sassier side of early-’70s glam. Big choruses almost pop out of nowhere on “Shuggie” and “Oh Yeah,” which border on the pomp-and-camp world of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The title-track is the most fun, a loose garage-rock jam with a few surprises of its own (the low hum of organ is the only adhesive to the glittery sty). The chorus to “On Blue Mountain” not-so-suspiciously recalls Elvis’ “Suspicious Minds,” but there are plenty of left-field dynamics and candied vocals to divert your attention (like the sneaky, one-time-only “I need it! I need it!" line).
While the more unhinged moments tend to overshadow sugary, buttery pop songs like “No Destruction” (even with the delicious jab: “There’s no need to be an asshole / You’re not in Brooklyn anymore”), the softer moments balance out the record’s tidy nine tracks. 21st Century also balances our post-apocalyptic present day with the past Rado and France hold so dear. The true litmus test is whether a modern take on the classics can hold your attention, or makes you immediately reach for your Transformer record. Foxygen wins. This time.