Review: Foxygen – Hang

Photo: Jagjaguwar

I can’t say I’ve ever had more than a passing interest for L.A. based progressive pop outfit Foxygen’s music; the only album that impressed me in their discography was 2011’s Take the Kids Off Broadway. But I couldn’t help but feel some kind of anticipation when vocalist Sam France promised an album with a 40-piece orchestra, not to mention contributions from Flaming Lips’ Steven Drozd. They seemed to be taking the same direction that Unknown Mortal Orchestra took with their last album – echoing 60s psychedelia with a quirky twist.

However, on hearing the album, I couldn’t help feeling that the music sounded awfully familiar, and this train of thought ran through my mind more than once while listening to Foxygen’s newest release, because the band has made their sonic influences abundantly clear on Hang, most notably 70’s soul-infused pop and classic swing. I liked the utilization of the orchestral sections, which really bring out a colour and personality to the music, even if the vocals struggle at times to come up to par.

Unfortunately, wearing your influences on your sleeve only works out for Foxygen half the time, and runs the danger of reminding the listener of other songs, like on the track “Follow the Leader”, where I was more focused on trying to figure out what the band was referencing than listening to the music itself.

Despite all this, I can’t help but enjoy this effort just a little bit. Listen to this if you enjoy modern psychedelic pop or just love orchestras. Let’s just call it a homage instead of recycling old ideas.

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