Foxygen: …And Star Power

An experience that should be shared.

Foxygen acquired many fans with their 2013 release We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic. Now the eccentric duo is back with an ambitious double album. Do not underestimate the whimsical and Bowie-esque name of the record; it is clearly heavily influenced by David. There are also moments of The Velvet Underground and The Kinks.  The album is dripping with late 60s early 70s experimental psychedelic pop.

“How Can You Really” is the single and the most accessible track on the album. With its jangly piano, upbeat melody and catchy groove, it’s vintage pop gold. “Coulda Been My Love” is a lovely track with a slow and dreamy melody. It’s a melancholy ballad with just a touch of soul.  “You & I” which harkens back to the Lou Reed influence, features gorgeous harmonies similar to that of “Because” by The Beatles.  This track leads into the experimental part of the album which consists of Star Power I, II, III, & IV. Each track leading into the other, each one pulses with noise and energy. “Star Power III: What Are We Good For” is probably my favorite of the four. The Lou Reed influence is super obvious from the vocals of Kevin Barnes (Of Montreal). It’s a wild combination of grooves, loud and soft melodies and layers of guitars, trumpets, and piano. “Flowers” combines organ and piano chords and a swaying melody with minimal drums a la Ringo Starr and pretty pretty harmonies. Imagine if “Fool on the Hill” and “Don’t Let Me Down” were morphed. That’s what it sounds like and it works. The remainder of the first disc is tracks which fit well together but would sound odd being singled apart.

Disc or Side 2 keeps the same vibe going but is more guitar driven than side 1. This side especially the beginning seems to have loads of Rolling Stones elements. “Everyone Needs Love” is anthem emphasizing themes very popular in hits of the decades mentioned previously. It’s nice to listen to but lacking originality to be a show stopper. The closing track of this ruthless double album is the somber “Hang” which is mellow and quiet. It has a slight build up but finally ends with a gruff sample.

If you know anything about Foxygen’s reputation you know they are wild. One could say the same about this album. Foxygen immersed this album with their persona.  They created an album that is strange, interesting, and at times enthralling. It’s an album that grows on you. It takes a multiple listens to really get what it’s all about.  It’s like stepping into the Tardis and traveling to a different space and time. It’s an experience that should be shared with our listeners.

Recommmend if you like: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Diiv, Smith Westerns

Recommended tracks: Disc 1: “How Can You Really,” “Coulda Been My Love,” “You & I,” “Star Power III: What Are We Good For,” and “Flowers” Disc 2: “Everyone Needs Love,” and “Hang”

Reviewed by Emilie Stafford October 5, 2014

KJHK 90.7 FM