Foxygen - We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace And Magic

Despite taking much from the late 1960s, this is not a record that’s reverential or mere pastiche.

Label: Jagjaguwar

Rating: 8

Foxygen duo Sam France and Jonathan Rado are characters steeped in rock ‘n roll’s long-standing tradition. They’re in thrall of it in its purest form and all the possibilities it entails. Having been making music together since high school, they hooked up with esteemed US producer Richard Swift and decamped to his Californian studio to record this first album proper, the grandly titled ‘We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace And Magic’. The result is a bewitching concoction of psych rock thrills, melodic pop and an untrammelled desire to explore rock’s freakier boundaries.

There is a classicism to Foxygen’s sound that brings to mind any number of late 60s acts. This was a period of staggering progression in popular music’s history and this record shares a similar experimental desire - The Kinks and early Bowie are prime influences, while the vocals are also reminiscent of Mick Jagger’s insouciant drawl. The best thing about all these influences coalescing together is that they sound like a natural input in to the Foxygen sound; this is not a record that is reverential or mere pastiche. For the most part, it is a collection of extremely good songs.

There’s a wonderful transportive quality to the best moments here, from opener ‘In The Darkness’s piano vamps and Pink Floyd-ish psychedelic swooshes to the slowly evolving strange instrumental patters of single ‘Shuggie’, the latter indicative of Foxygen’s melting point of sounds, morphing effortlessly from a reggae-tinged lope to a freewheeling glammy stomp.

The lyrical content is largely bonkers with a number of oblique lines or strange references, for example ‘Shuggie’’s reference to “rhinoceros shaped earrings.” These quirks are all part of Foxygen’s indelible charm.

Foxygen are a band that pay no heed to convention or recognised ideals. They take classic influences from rock’s past and process them through their own wide-eyed filter. ‘We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace And Magic’ is a great full-length debut that is far more than a nostalgia trip.