Release Date: Oct 14, 2014
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Lo-Fi, Indie Pop, Neo-Psychedelia, Indie Folk
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more polarizing upstart of a band than Foxygen. Tagged with so much promise following the release of their 2012 debut, Take the Kids Off Broadway, the duo of Sam France and Jonathan Rado teamed up with Richard Swift for a brilliant follow-up with 2013’s We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. It was only after the pair found a small modicum of underground buzz that they were forced to put a band together and play shows, and the results were a spectacle at best, and terrible on the other end.
Hey, kid off the street. Yeah, the one in the leather jacket, clutching a crumpled fanzine and a bashed-up acoustic guitar: wanna be in a punk band called Star Power? Or at least, (to that tune), that’s what the promotional copy for Foxygen’s new double-album celestial spectacular ‘…And Star Power’ promises. Perhaps the gap left by the ellipsis is filled by Foxygen; or perhaps it’s meant to house the eager listener? Either way, it’s damn hard not to feel that the promise has been fulfilled after a listen to the record.
Attempting to rekindle '60s pop and rock has been one of the most common pastimes among bands since, oh, 1970 or so. The decade's most enduring musical tropes remain as easy to pick out in the music of the 2010s as ever: the ecstatic vocal harmonies of the Beatles; the clean, jangly guitars of the Byrds; the wheezing lyrical abstraction of Bob Dylan. The aspect of '60s pop music that's much more difficult to recreate is the seemingly boundless capacity for throw-it-at-the-wall experimentation.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Ladies and gentlemen, we have lift-off; welcome to Foxygen's new album ...And Star Power, an amazingly bittersweet journey that will linger with you way after your turntable has stopped spinning. The highly anticipated follow-up to last year's We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic (one of my 2013 personal favourites) is a concept (double) album of sorts that sees Rado and France climbing a few steps towards their place as one of the most creative bands of the new decade.
Embedded within the detailed credits to Foxygen’s …And Star Power is this revelation from guitarist/band co-founder Jonathan Rado: “During our recording process, our only true heated argument was over this song. ” The identity of the song in question is immaterial; the very fact Rado felt the need to downplay any perceived infighting with vocalist/foil Sam France speaks volumes about the reputation their band has acquired—one that’s unruly enough to seemingly require some liner-note damage control. Following the release of 2013’s critical success We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, Foxygen seemed to pack a career’s worth of triumphs and travesties into a single album cycle—and, as such,…And Star Power translates all the exhilaration and exhaustion the band has experienced over the past two years into an unwieldy, 24-song splatter that often sounds like a band at war with itself.
In an interview just before the release of their official debut full-length, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, Foxygen's lead singer Sam France said, "On our next album we're gonna completely promote it like I've gone insane or I'm in a mental institution." France didn't know at the time that the following year—the sudden popularity, backlash, media scrutiny, cancelled tours, slanderous blog posts, and thoroughly broken legs—would be enough to actually drive him bonkers. Apparently it did, and the 24-song bizarro rock odyssey ...And Star Power is Foxygen's letter from the psych ward. .
Sam France and Jonathan Rado have the type of musical partnership that’s so chemically reactive, it’s tough to say exactly how they should manage it: Are they more impressive when they whittle and polish their spitballs into structured songs and “pop,” or when they don’t? Last year, it wasn’t entirely clear that their breakout album, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, was a product of the former, but it’s clear now. Its successor, the 24-song double LP …And Star Power, is a spitball mural that stretches a full city block, comprised of long swaths of barely revised jams littered intermittently with tiny bombshells of truly gifted songwriting. Juxtaposed with Peace and Magic, Foxygen’s third album provides the evidence to decide for yourself.
After a SXSW meltdown and cancelled tour, it seemed like Sam France and Jonathan Rado of L.A.-based Foxygen were going to call it quits. Instead, they've made a third album, a sprawling 82-minute homage to their forefathers: the Velvet Underground, acid-tripping-era Beatles, Pink Floyd and Ziggy Stardust. How Can You Really employs sunny horns and jangly piano, while Star Power III: What Are We Good For opens with a monologue by Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes (sounding like Lou Reed) and a love-fest singalong before erupting into groovy bass and guitar solos.
Foxygen have the heart of the Rolling Stones in the bodies of millennials. While this formula led to success on last year's breakout LP, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, there were also signs that they were torn between being smart pop composers and raucous youth making noise. Without an external producer, …And Star Power finds them still caught between the dichotomy, which ultimately makes for to a divisive record.Wrapped in a bizarre sonic metanarrative about Foxygen joining and subsequently being taken over by a punk collective, the record highlights a true descent into overindulgent madness, but not before demonstrating a talented band crafting great tunes.
Try as you might to take Foxygen and its new effort . . .
Drugs. Temper tantrums. Onstage meltdowns. Foxygen’s flame has seemed in danger of sputtering out. After a promising second album in 2013’s ‘We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic’, the LA psych troupe – led by ’60s-obsessed high school friends Jonathan Rado and Sam France ….
Sam France and Jonathan Rado took Foxygen from being their high-school recording project to capturing the attention of the independent music community at large with stellar albums that blended multiple classic rock & roll reference points into catchy collage-minded tunes. Their 2013 effort We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic saw the band at the peak of its powers, channeling (or directly borrowing from) Dylan, Jagger, Bowie, Reed, and dozens of other rock innovators but somehow avoiding coming off as sheer derivation through inspired songwriting, carefully groomed presentation, and an unnameable charm. With follow-up .
Foxygen seem to know a good idea when they see it, but that doesn't mean they ignore the bad ones. Their third album is both diamonds and rough – an 82-minute combo plate of half-finished songs, choruses unmoored from verses, bursts of skyscraping beauty and long passages of sonic murk, all vaguely redolent of the Rolling Stones and Jesus Christ Superstar. One side is even subtitled "The Hits," proving they're smart enough to know their most appealing material (see highlights like "You & I" and "Flowers"), but smart-assed enough to not care.
“Society, man! It’s like…like this box, man! ” is the first decipherable lyric on Foxygen’s latest LP, the 24-track slog that is …And Star Power. For a band that is so completely derivative and often reliant on such meaningless Sixties sloganeering, Foxygen have managed to gain significant acclaim for their work, with the ludicrous We Are the Twentieth Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic getting heralded by everyone from Pitchfork to NME. But then perhaps it is the silliness of the band’s schtick that appeals to their champions; to me, Foxygen are the sort of stereotyped Sixties nostalgia act best suited to teenager’s ‘hippie phase’ birthday party in the local village hall, where parents reminisce wistfully from the back rows for a scene that they were far too young for before rushing off to clear the latest batch of sick.
Foxygen…And Star Power(Jagjaguwar)Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars Apparently emboldened by the overwhelming positive critical and commercial reaction to 2013’s We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, Sam France and Jonathan Rado, aka Foxygen, felt they could expand their sonic pop mishmash into a two disc follow-up. Perhaps someone should have talked them down off that ledge. This sprawling double platter that runs just a little over what could comfortably fit on a single CD is undeniably creatively liberating.
If an artist doesn’t have enough viable material to sustain a single album, it’s surely folly to try to release a double, regardless of the virtues of the underlying conceit. Yet that’s the blunder the Californian duo Foxygen make on their third album, as they ramble across four conceptually vague song suites. Touches of underwhelming psych-folk, jarring fairground music and abrasive garage rock are blended with their soft-rock stylings, but an 82-minute running time stretches the charm very thinly.
When is musical excess—or more specifically a carefree recording style—a beautiful thing, and when is it purely over-indulgence? With today’s artists’ ability to record wherever and whenever they want and with more ways to create music than in the past, it can be easy to get carried away, adding every sound that’s even a little interesting. Sometimes it’s unintentional; sometimes artists don’t know any better; and some bands do it with intent. On ...And Star Power, Foxygen knowingly and purposefully throws everything it has on the album with carefree, lo-fi glee.
A dense, scattershot batch of could-be songs yet to be realized, the third record from one of Los Angeles' most promising guitar bands is kind of a mess. Unlike Foxygen's memorable last album, "We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic," which captured a group of smart, spontaneous creators in love with Ray Davies-esque songcraft and structural surprise, "… And Star Power" is scattered, often silly and mostly inconsequential. But maybe it stands to reason; the band is known nearly as much for its internal drama and chaotic live gigs as it is for its music at this point, and you can hear it.
opinion byBRENDAN FRANK If you were to believe the buzz, this was almost the album that never was. After the surprise success of their second studio effort, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, California outfit Foxygen appeared embattled. In fairness, you could see how onstage tirades, a cancelled tour, and swirling will they/won’t they rumours regarding another album might have given that impression.
Since emerging on the national stage in 2012, California’s Foxygen has maintained a frustrating level of quality control. By turns brilliant, on singles like “San Francisco” and “Shuggie,” the band has seemed disinterested at times, a 2013 show at Brighton Music Hall in particular. The group seems to have studied the music and the behavior of ’60s and ’70s psychedelic hedonists.