Foxygen – Hang

Rating 5/7

Released: 1/20/17

Hang is Foxygen’s fourth full-length LP, their second album removed from We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic (hereby referred to as WATTCAOPAM), which is arguably their strongest work. Foxygen is a rock duo consisting of Jonathan Rado and Sam France (singer).  WATTCAOPAM was lo-fi rock, mixed in with a little synth, mixed with well… basically everything.  Reflecting on the build up to this album, we were treated to the release of three different singles: “America“, “Follow The Leader” and “On Lankershim“.

If you have heard Foxygen before you may have seen that they tend to go all out: ie. the title song of WATTCAOPAM where the rock beat gets progressively more and more intense, and France’s singing gets more and more unintelligible.  When it comes to Foxygen being ridiculous, if you thought that was a little over the top you will definitely think this album as fuckin’ insane.

While listening to this album you can tell that a lot of work went into composing each track to make sure that everything balances out between percussion and instrumentation, but a downside to all of these moving parts is that the vocals can get drowned out.  This is especially apparent in the song “Mrs. Adams”, where the cacophonous swell of multiple strings and horns just overpower the singer so much that he can’t control the actual song.  Other than the tendency to do this at times, each of the songs are well composed and layered.

All of these songs feel like they belong in a modern day interpretation of an early 50’s Hollywood movie (like “Hail Caesar,” the underwhelming Coen brothers movie).  That being said, songs like “Avalon” are very cheesy.  “Avalon” sounds like if there was a 50’s western show tune that had to be scrapped.  The entire album has a lot of epic songs that build up and explode with sounds that feel very atmospheric and really take you somewhere. While in several songs this achieves a very epic-sounding atmosphere, a lot of the songs feel like they’re trying too hard to be epic and ends up being ridiculous and campy.

Overall, you can definitely see some of the influences France and Rado had on this album.  There are a lot of influences that are extremely apparent: Elton John, Frank Zappa, and The Rolling Stones, to name a few.  Though they wear their influences on their sleeves, they do wear them well.  I did like this album after the 4th listen, but it really took me a while to warm up to it as a whole.  My main gripe, other than the cheesiness, is the lack of cohesion.  This album goes from “Follow the Leader” (sounds a lot like Let’s Groove by Earth Wind & Fire mixed with Bonnie Tyler’s I Need a Hero) to “On Lankershim”  (Sounds a lot like Bruce Springsteen mixed with Fleetwood Mac).   All of this being said, if you like Foxygen, you will definitely like their new album.

Favorite and least favorite tracks:

Favorites: “Follow the Leader”, “America” and “Rise Up”

Least Favorites:  “Avalon”, “Trauma”