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. Except perhaps the punk bit.
If their last album was a 60s feast, ‘…And Star Power’ is a 70s all-you-can-eat buffet that gloriously clashes stewed girl-group harmonies (‘Star Power IV: Ooh Ooh’) with chargrilled punk riffs (‘Can’t Contextualize My Mind’), crushed-ice soul shakes (‘Coulda Been My Love’), side-dishes of glam rock (‘Freedom II’) and a supersize bucket of hip-shaking foot-clicking, finger-licking raw attitude.
Even with a pupil-popping twenty-four tracks, the album rarely feels repetitive. In usual Foxygen style, most of the tracks anyway comprise of several parts that twist-and-turn and helter-skelter like a piss-up at a playpark. ‘Cold Winter / Freedom’, for example, shape shifts from a distortion sludge into a full-out wig-out, while ’ Cosmic Vibrations’ morphs from a Doors-y feel into a Stones-y ending and ‘Everyone Needs Love’ rollercoasters through every sound of the album like a musical safari.
Even better is how goddamn classic everything sounds. Sure, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison incessantly watch-over the record like a golden-gated community of musical deities. But there can be no complaints when the tracks sound so immortal and timeless. ‘Star Power III: What Are We Good For’ gloriously manages to open exactly like a Velvet Underground track before giving way to an army of hooks; ‘Brooklyn Police Station’ is an infectious slice of 70s pop-rock; ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ sounds part Stones and part plastic-soul. It ain’t some cheap faux-vintage trick; every corner of the album oozes with a feeling that classic sounds are being remoulded and relived into something new.
The real beauty of the record, however, lies in the fact that the whole project is so bloody ambitious. The duo have managed to pull-off a conceptual album and a double-album simultaneously. The former certainly feels fulfilled; the tracks flow into one another very effectively, and vocal or sampled reminders that we’re listening to the fictional group ‘Star Power’, bind everything together to make something very exciting. And the double-album bit? There’s a heck of a lot of slower, ballad-like tracks; but almost all of them bring something fantastically new to the metaphorical table.
Interestingly, the only sore-thumb is lead single ‘How Can You Really’, which feels far too polished for the lo-fi and experimental feel of the album. Apart from that, though, this is a record of magnificent magnitude and one that’s audacious as hell. As the copy urges, be part of Star Power: the band dips both hands into the past and then reaches for the stars of the future, grabbing the galaxy by its ears and hearts.