ALBUM REVIEW: Foxing – Nearer My God
Photo Credit: Hayden Molinarolo
Art is all about expression and interpretation. When people create art for a living in any shape or form they should be striving to create something original and heartfelt that will not only express the way that they are feeling, but connect with people who observe it and interpret it in their own way. The band Foxing have been creating their own unique and adventurous take on rock music for the better part of a decade now and have produced two truly outstanding full length albums, The Albatross and Dealer, as well as one extended play Old Songs. The band are now ready to unveil their third full length album Nearer My God to the world and it goes without saying that the band have not settled for repeating the same formula that they have already tried and tested.
The album opens with the track Grand Paradise which is the perfect introduction to the new era of Foxing. Drum samples alongside a regular drum beat and clean, echoed guitars are used to create a real sense of atmosphere as the song builds gradually. The music that Foxing create is heavily reliant on layering and creating a large, emo/post-rock sound, with frontman Conor Murphy laying his high pitched, emotive vocals over the top and this is exactly what you get here. The instrumental sounds wonderful as a result, although if you were to strip it back and listen to each part individually you wouldn’t be overly impressed with the musicianship on display. But does that really matter? It really depends on what you are looking for from your music.
The next track Slapstick has a vibe that wouldn’t be out of place on a Deathcab For Cutie album. The song was used as the lead single for the album and it’s easy to see why. It’s a track that is paint by numbers Foxing. Once again it shows the listener exactly what the band are all about which is soft guitar parts, bursts of energy that are quickly followed by returning in to its shell and high pitched, emotive vocal lines from Murphy. The only criticism here is that band regularly feel like there is another gear that they can use, but they seem reluctant and are quite happy to plod along at the same speed which sometimes leaves the overall sound feeling a little bland.
The song Gameshark comes at just the right time. The upbeat nature rescues the album from falling into a state of monotony and gives the listener a little taste of the other pace that Foxing are capable of. This song leans heavily on the band’s indie rock sensibilities and reflects work by acts such as Everything, Everything and The Foals with its high pitch, melodic vocals, punchy bassline and well written guitar riffs. This is the side to Foxing that shows off what the band are capable of when they let loose a little and just enjoy being a rock band.
In the second half of the album we find the track Heartbeats, which opens with the kind of orchestral introduction that you would expect to see at the beginning of an old western film, before being interrupted by the drum samples that have been so heavily leaned on throughout this release. The atmospherics used here give this particular song a real feeling of grandeur and add that extra ingredient to a track that is pretty unremarkable otherwise. That’s not to say that it is a bad song at all. In fact, Foxing’s existing fan base will be more than satisfied with it, but it is not the kind of song that would win over new fans.
The stylistic shift in the two halves of the album is staggering. To the point that the album almost sounds like two different bands have released a full length split album; however, this is not necessarily a bad thing as the back half of the album certainly wipes the sleep from the eyes and brings far more excitement to proceedings. The listener also gets to experience two of the highlight tracks Bastardizer and Crown Candy, which sees Foxing utilising more of their pop punk sensibilities. The tracks are far more stripped back and direct in their delivery and come off sounding far more like bands such as The Wonder Years and Real Friends, rather than the post-rock sound that we have seen throughout the rest of Nearer My God.
Overall you can say this is an album of two halves and one certainly saves the other. The more explorative songs on the first half of the album are not terrible songs by any means but they almost feel like they lack direction, and when you consider that the boys in Foxing know their way so well around a pop punk track it leaves you wondering why they don’t utilise that way more than they have on this release.
Standout Tracks: Gameshark, Bastardizer, Crown Candy
For Fans Of: Sorority Noise, The Hotelier, Modern Baseball
Written by: Richard Webb