Pinning down Los Angeles-based (and occasionally Brooklyn) band Foxygen is a chore. Are they backward-facing 60s revivalists? Are they loose rockers fusing both the spirit of pre-punk and freedom rock? Are they dreamy pop stars with great hair and great press? Are they a Velvets-ey slacker duo who use faux-apathy to show their disdain for clichés? The thing is, they’re sorta all of those things. Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado and Sam France are not interested in making their band a neat tidy package. During some downtime, Rado has recorded a solo album titled Law and Order and it seems like he may have thought Foxygen was holding him back. Granted, in Rado’s short history, he’s had had a lot things written about him and rarely does it focus on the music. I’m sure Rado is a little sick of that and my feeling is that this solo effort is an effort to remedy this situation.
Recorded mostly in his parents’ home in Suburban L.A. and in his Brooklyn apartment, Law and Order has a lot of the shabby chic, vintage quality of his band but minus the charismatic vocals of Foxy’s France. However, the vocals are the only place where Law and Order is neater than the music of his main project. It sounds as if Rado was able to get into Ariel Pink’s time machine that goes straight to the 60s. Every sound radiates a mix-and-match with particular sounds and songs from that era. “Looking 4a Girl Like U” has a loose R ‘n’ B rock vibe mixed with a Tommy James and the Shondells-like fuzzed out guitar. Or the garage-rocker “Dance Away Your Ego” which fuses (Grimy Goods fave) the Seeds-like, Nuggets-type production with some” Memphis meets metal” classic rock organ. “I Wood” has a kitchen sink (and that’s literally possible as many of the drums were recorded in a kitchen) mentality, it almost sounds like it’s a greatest hits records all wrapped up in cut. The album definitely gets weirder and more expansive; though “Pot of Gold” on it’s own is the clear cut choice for a pop single with half angular guitars and half early, monophonic Prince sounds CRAZY next to the other material on this record. “I Wanna Feel it Now!!!” sounds like it’s being blasted from a muscle car from a 70s TV show. It’s a hodge podge for sure, some might say uneven. That’s up to the listener but for listeners craving variety and energy, Law and Order is stripped-down, less dramatic, and has a more rock ‘n’ roll feel.
So if internerd trolling is true, there may not be much Foxygen material in the future and if that’s so, I think we’d be OK if we have to settle for this adventurous roller coaster of an artist.
Words by Stephe Psi-X