Release Date: Apr 26, 2019
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Growing up in public does strange things to a psyche. Once you have experienced glowing adulation and the trappings of fame, the quest for substance to fill the void inside becomes overwhelming. Some turn to religion, murky types opt for chemical oblivion or other excesses and some just get on with it; Foxygen chose option two, but are still here to tell the tales.
This got people a little bit worried. But Foxygen aren't breaking up; they're "never breaking up" because they're "not a band and never were". They're simply growing up and moving on. So Seeing Other People is about starting a new chapter. It's about facing that ending, that loneliness and pain ….
Opener ‘Work’ may, amusingly, kick off with a beginning few notes reminiscent of Whitney’s effervescent banger ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’, but on their sixth LP, unpredictable Californians Foxygen are less up for a bop than an attempt at settling some scores. Like the hangover from 2017’s Broadway romp ‘Hang’, the likes of the scornful ‘Livin’ A Lie’, that pulls no punches at a friend turned nemesis, or ‘Flag At Half-Mast”s curtain call melancholy are not the songs of a happy band; the aforementioned, meta ‘Work’ is its bitter apex and calling card: "If I’m such a fucking jerk, then why don’t you write it down?" Of course, because this is Foxygen, and they can’t help but add a little theatre, then musically there’s still a lot of fun to be found, from ‘Face The Facts” yuppie rock to ‘News” playful, ritzy keys. Still, despite the spruced-up surface, the bubbling undercurrent of ‘Seeing Other People’ remains a troubled one.
Foxygen's Sam France and Jonathan Rado were recording their fifth album for Jagjaguwar, Seeing Other People, as they approached the age of 30. At the same time, the pair were making some major lifestyle changes involving partying and tour life, prompting France to refer to Seeing Other People as "our adult contemporary album." While not exactly that, Seeing Other People does stick more closely to traditional pop song forms while incorporating prominent synths and a funkier, more refined approach to their sound; it slides their typical myriad vintage reference points from the '60s and '70s into the '70s and '80s. As if to underscore this, they brought in legendary session drummer Jim Keltner (solo Beatles, Steely Dan) on select tracks.
Foxygen ascended swiftly to indie-rock fame and descended just as quickly into glam-rock tragicomedy. The years following their 2013 breakthrough We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic felt like watching Nadia approach the deadly staircase in the TV series "Russian Doll." Each time they face-planted, they returned with a hard reset: The 24-song behemoth ...And Star Power and tighter 40-minute follow-up Hang were both comparable to any number of coked-out comedown albums meant to demoralize label accountants and chase off casual fans before getting reassessed as cult classics. Seeing Other People is overtly about the Decline of Foxygen and little else, and sadly, it's their most convincing performance in years.