Foxygen - Hang album review: Fleet of foot, with looniness kept to a minimum

Fri, Jan 20, 2017, 13:13






Say what you like about Foxygen, but you can’t say they lack ambition. To Jonathan Rado and Sam France, standing still in a creative sense is anathema, a motto never more blatantly obvious than on their fifth album.

In the past, the two Californians have pursued lines in indie, psychedelic pop and garage-rock, as well as pilfering from a multitude of other genres. Work over the years has included beefing up the line-up to include a nine-piece band, along with backing singers and dancers.

Hang takes their schizophrenic sound and applies it to a 40-strong orchestra setting that recalls the schmaltzier end of the 1970s, from the disco-infused Follow the Leader to the theatrical, finger-clicking Avalon, a song straight out of a Broadway musical.

“Theatrical” is an apt description of this collection as a whole; the addition of strings, many of them arranged by fellow musician Matthew E White, adds both a richness and a melodramatic air to the likes of America. Coupled with France’s Jagger-like vocals, the formula makes for an oddly compelling listen.

Sometimes, Hang edges perilously close to pastiche. There’s fun to be had in finger-clicking showtunes, but at times the duo seem to lose themselves in looniness at the expense of the song. At its best, however, the likes of Mrs Adams invoke the spirit of Bowie’s pop experimentalism, and more specifically recall Of Montreal at their zaniest – particularly when paired with enjoyably wacky lyrics about “flamingos dancing on spaceships”, as heard on Upon a Hill.

Still, when all is said and done, it is a hugely entertaining and undeniably cohesive collection of eccentric songs – a feat more difficult to pull off than you might imagine. Just ask The Flaming Lips.