Foxygen is Jonathan Rado and Sam France. Brewed in LA, the duo has been making music since 2005 as high school freshmen. Their first two studio albums (Take the Kids off Broadway 2012, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic 2013) were critically praised and left their listeners yearning for more. …And Star Power was released on October 14th and features names such as Kevin Barnes (Of Montreal), The Flaming Lips, and Tim Presley of White Fence. This audio spectacular make up a 24-song epic that explores trickles of childlike pop ornaments from the ‘60s, spooky buttermilk jams of the ‘70s, a blistering tin can of the apocalypse, and a perpetuating odyssey of love, hate, death, and life.
Their invention simultaneously transports me to the 4th dimension and fills me with fascinating euphoria; this musical project is a gold dust remnant from a far-off galaxy. …And Star Power is not simply a reproduction of neo-psychedelia hits as some have said. The motif of construction and reconstruction expressed within both lyric and instrument are beautifully crafted and downright needed in our ever-criticizing and anxiety-ridden generation. At the consummation of this LP, I am left as a drooling open-mouthed fool with inner tranquility.
Apt titles of the 5 album sections report the unification of Foxygen and Star Power, a punk band, that “you can be in, too” because “we’re all stars of the scene.”
“Side One, Part one: The Hits” : Includes melting falsetto decoration and the persuasion to dance. Bloody guitar and screams trail off to what at times sounds like Jim Morrison accompanied by the Beatles. But then alien airwaves seep into my ears and I think I hear Satan. Optimistic and hopeful, “Love is the answer” is sung in a field of flowers with naked friends, or maybe even in a Broadway musical. Some tracks are sultry, like “You & I” and “Cosmic Vibrations.” Instances of Dr. Frank-N-Furter swaying his hips back and forth as he prances down a fountain of stairs in 6” bloodied platforms. Black abysmal curls and gross sticky lips. Guitar sounds like thick clammy cowboy ooze goop slimed in between my fingers by a thick plastic spatula. The singles were rightly chosen from this section.
“Side one, Part Two: Star Power Suite” : Here is when Foxygen joins Star Power. It is a creepy synthetic experience reminiscent of Wendy Carlos’ soundtracks for Clockwork Orange and The Shining. Thank you Rado for your wooden xylophone tap shoes. The unorganized noise from their KILL ART EP circa high school is at its zenith. “Star Power IV: Ooh Ooh” is 1920s whiskey dripping mesmerizing with feather boas and smoky ill-lit bedrooms.
“Side Two: The Paranoid Side” : Begins with a peach dream melody that escorts a sliding tender bass line in “I Don’t Have Anything.” Then, suddenly, tracks like “Mattress Warehouse” and “666” take me to a carnival where the Beach Boys are undead performers with knives sticking out of their skin. Furbies are crying in the distance. Wobbles honks his nose on the boardwalk with a fake smile. Flaming marching bears spin glasses on their heads in a large circle around a broken floor tom. Sinister rudimentary keyboards and changes in tempo make me feel weird about myself. Drip slime down my spine. Kitsch cheesecake.
“Side 3: “Scream, A Journey Through Hell” : I do see Satan and he is crawling slowly my way. This album hauntingly culminates into a diabolical pandemonium on the track “Cold Winter/Freedom”. After all hell has broken loose there remains freedom. Rado and Sam then slip in the last few seconds to assure the anxiety-ridden bodies know that, alas, love remains.
“Side 4: “Hang On to Love” : Foxygen does more than create an auditory map or masterfully combine genres, they provide our generation with the kind of love that facilitates the rich connection of spirit that has been forgotten. They end with the first song recorded for this album.
Foxygen’s songs are usually dual in nature. They excel at saturating their notes with despondent, slinky passion. Then they quickly latch onto my earlobes with fishing hooks and drag me down a burning cobblestone street. The villagers are screaming. They devise their songs so they are so sexy and smooth and then suddenly transform to reject that very sound. Each track makes a full circle. This album is overflowing with teases, funky serpents, and quiet vocals that suck you in to listen even closer. Rado and Sam will illuminate you with love even if this planet is exploding.
Gabriela D’Elia / I Get My Groove from You / KXSU DJ & Training Director