Foxygen, …And Star Power – album review
Tenley Nordstrom reviews the latest longplayer from the Californian indie/rock duo:
Foxygen’s new album dropped in my inbox like a brick. I had to double-take the 24-track listing. But don’t let that scare you away. …And Star Power is brilliantly manic psych ward rock ‘n roll. I simply don’t agree with Noel Gallagher when he shat out this gem to Rolling Stone, “How arrogant are these people [Arcade Fire] to think that you’ve got an hour-and-a-half to listen to a fucking record?” Shove it Noel. A lot of us have a measly hour-and-a-half for that thing you claim to love, music. So to quote lead singer Sam France, “hold on to your butts and get ready!”
Foxygen is all of your favorite rock bands spat out as a feral love child roaming the modern music landscape with a heavy dose of Surrealistic Pillow’s influence all over this album. With …And Star Power, Foxygen cements their status as a force that’s here to stay. It’s challenging in the most complimentary of ways, and yet it’s the perfect album to throw on at a raging party. …And Star Power displays the ups and downs of our 20’s perfectly. The experimentation. The all over the place growth and emotionality. You really never know what will be thrown at you next. It’s an anamalic lashing of the senses. The avant-garde nature of this album is rare. If Velvet Underground was heroin in a NYC warehouse, Foxygen is heroin dipped in the ocean and soaked in the California sun.
The first five songs have a wonderful arc. How Can You Really feels like the realization that a relationship is not working. The one we stay in even though we know it has to be over. Coulda Been My Love is the moment when we say, whatever, I don’t need you! Then Cosmic Vibrations, quite possibly my favorite song, rings out with the lyrics – If you want me/you can have me. you can have me/but I’m all used up. Next we flow into You & I. The ultimate in no one loves me self pitying that we’ve all done at some point. Now we get to the meat of the album, Star Power l-lV. It’s as if to say, you had your hits now let us unleash. With Star Power lll: What Are We Good For, I can’t help but think that here is the heart of Millennials screaming out, What are we good for if we can’t make it?
Flowing out of the the Star Power section is I Don’t Have Anything At the Gate. If I had this album on at my swinging party in my wood paneled Laurel Canyon bungalow, this would be the moment where I’d sneak out for a breath of fresh air and a make-out session. But it doesn’t last for long before we head into such highlights as Hot Summer. Starting with, “THIS SONG IS CALLED HOT SUMMAAAH!” I want to flail my arms and spin and dance and shake and throw my hair around like a maniac. I want to see this album performed live front to back badly by this point. Bizarre stage antics and all. I prefer my rock stars with grit. No need for polished stepford bullshit.
After Hot Summer is Cold Winter Freedom. Stay with me here. One time, in NYC, I followed a few friends to a random building in Tribeca. We made our way up the stairs to a room with eery red lighting and we paid five dollars to lay on the floor and feel the vibrations. I would like to go back to that room and feel Cold Winter Freedom vibrating through my body instead. Halfway through Foxygen readjusts the dials and I’d want to get up, freak out, rip everything off the walls then run out of the room onto the street and into the night.
This album is weird enough to make me conjure a moment in my life that I’ve never been able to make sense of. With the ending lyrics to Cold Winter Freedom being – But now, the Chinese are on the moon/they and their dogs die in space. This is, after all, an album billed as, “the radio station that you can hear only if you believe.”
Words by Tenley Nordstrom