So begins the daily flurry of coverage now that exams are over and I have a backlog to go through. While I’ve covered Foxygen’s recent release, …And Star Power, I never fully talked about their earlier work, so today I’m talking about the amazing We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic.
The album opens on the ironically bright “In The Darkness” which starts the album’s retro Stone’s sounding vibe very fully, and opens the album on what feels like a new dawn. “No Destruction” shows the band’s very sophisticated songwriting with every part feeling like it gets a turn in the song and each section flowing effortlessly into each other. The claves are an especially nice touch and considering most of this was recorded by Jon Rado on his own it’s all the more impressive how cohesive the whole thing is.
“On Blue Mountain” starts off with an almost skip-able start but when Rado brings it into the guitar breakdown the curtain is pulled back and the song quickly gains steam. The song features both Stones guitars and vocals and its chorus is one of those euphoria inducing one. The cherry on top is the bridge which takes it into a chant before ending on a running drum and guitar fade-out.
The band channels The Velvet Underground and the “She’s A Rainbow” Stones on “San Francisco” one of the albums best songs. The texturing on the sound is so great it’s just a pleasure to listen to and the pre-chorus drum fills are to die for. But the real treat on this song is the chorus, it changes gears to a quiet jam and pulls out the best line of 2013 with “That’s okay, I was born in L.A.” The line just has such musicality and poetry to it that it slays me every time.
“Shuggie” is the song that got me into Foxygen, its open, ambient verses pulled me in immediately, I even thought that singer Sam France was a really bassy female for a while. But what blew me away about this song was how it jumps into a slowdown pre-chorus to go into a speed-gospel chorus with organ spilling out the sides and its weird bass into chant fade-out ending is intriguingly short on both parts.
“Oh Yeah” pulls the Jagger vocals back in for a more stripped down song, whose falsetto filled slow jam chorus begs for sing-a-long. The carefree nature of the song is contagious and lines like “You can chew on gum, if it makes you have fun” add to the cheery feel. The album’s fastest song comes on the psychedelic “We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic” whose hit heavy choruses will get your head rocking and its strange bridge gives the song a second to breath before screaming to its next section. This section is full with clap breaks, electronic fills, and distortion heavy guitar breaks.
The album closes on the sunset-esque “Oh No” which brings a somber feel to the end of the record and submarine sound effects too. The great sound is still there though and between some strings, synths and the drums it has a great ambiance to it. The weird spoken part is great too and the weird chaotic tumble it falls into has a magical quality to it too. The album ends perfectly on a little light piano out resembling the weird chanty from Cream’s Disreali Gears.