Los Angeles duo Foxygen (Jonathan Rado and Sam France) resumed the mission of
the "Elephant 6" collective (Apples In Stereo, Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel) in the 2010s starting with an
mini-album, Take the Kids Off Broadway (Jagjaguwar, 2012),
that was fundamentally a collage of classic rock and pop archetypes.
Before Abandon My Toys
not many songs in history have managed to imitate
Buddy Holly and Bob Dylan in the same song
while also indulging in the psychedelic folly of the Fugs with
a postmodern escalation that borders on miraculous
interbreeding when vocals and a bass line a` la Rolling Stones follow jangling guitars a` la Byrds.
Make It Known borrows semiotic signs from both
garage-rock and Phil Spector's productions.
Take The Kids Off Broadway rides cliches of both the
David Bowie's glam-rock before soaring in
a stately country lament.
The praxis is similar to a mash-up a` la Girl Talk except that the snippets are not samples but "original" music.
The ten-minute Teenage Alien Blues changes every few seconds, paying
tribute to dozens of vintage hits, with peaks of dexterity when the duo
fuses two sources in one organic whole, as when we hear
Bert Berns' Hang On Sloopy and the Rolling Stones' Under My Thumb in the same ten seconds. Unfortunately ten
minutes is too long a time to expect from listeners when you are simply
repeating old stories. And the other songs of the collection are quite
irrelevant. This should have been a three-song EP.
Unfortunately even more filler cluttered
We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic (Jagjaguwar, 2013),
proving that their "encyclopedic" knowledge of the classics was really limited
to imitations of the Beatles
(In the Darkness)
and of Bob Dylan
to parodies of the hippies (San Francisco) and of
David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust (Oh Yeah),
and to little more.
This sounds like a rather faceless cover band until
We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, a
feverish psychobilly a` la Suicide combined with a visceral shout.
The sprawling, meandering And Star Power (2014) simply reduced the
number of detours within a song, aiming for a more serious and mainstream
experience. The unwanted consequence
that regular songs such as the single How Can You Really,
How Can You Really and Cosmic Vibrations
expose the fundamental dearth of ideas and/or skills.
The anthemic garage-rock Star Power Nite
and the beach dance 666 are not enough to redeem nadirs like the
languid ballad Coulda Been My Love (possibly an omen of the duo's
The standout is another abrasive Suicide-inspired psychobilly,
Hot Summer (also one of the shortest songs on the album).
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