Foreign Born, Foreign Born 7″
All those who labeled L.A.’s fresh, ambient pop group Foreign Born a toss-off anthem band (think: U2, Arcade Fire) are surely biting their presumptive tongues right now. Released as a 7″ add-on to the band’s latest LP, Person to Person, this Black Iris release shows how much emotional and musical depth can be pressed into two songs.
The band’s songs are still full of the isolated, reticent mantra that bubbles to the surface of said anthem bands, but they’ve reduced their breadth. Not really trying to tackle the problems of a vast and misunderstood existence, lead singer Matt Popieluch delves into the laconic headspace of a quiet observer and addresses the intimate world of the psyche. But while the vocals remain a tool of personal revelation, the band creates vast emotional space for Popieluch to croon in sedated melody.
“I lie down in the evening / where I can hear our lungs breathing,” sings Popieluch over modest-yet-shimmering instrumentation on side A track, “Things We’ll Never Be.” The scope is tuned down to nothing more than a momentary observation; taken alone, it could seem banal, but placed within the music’s fragile, ambient shell, it becomes insightful.
But for all the emoting going on in “Things We’ll Never Be” Ñ- all the hoping and praying -Ñ there remains a constant, visceral groove wrung from the song’s coattails. Even more so on the rhythmic and more notorious B-side, “Vacationing People,” Foreign Born opts for a more punctual sound that sticks to the front of the aural stage, using a fuzzed-out, drone ruckus to punctuate a surprisingly excited Popieluch. Here, they sound more rock than pop, more joyous than somber, and still distinct.
While both tunes retain the aural vibe of Foreign Born, they exist in completely different sound-scapes — a testament to producer Lewis Pesacov (who also plays guitar) and to the band’s ability to distinguish themselves from the thick, reverb-laden instrumentation.
What Foreign Born shows, above all else, is their panache for writing and producing astounding music. They don’t shy away from emotion or employ useless rock wanking to compensate for a collective lack in writing abilities. They write well-thought-out, intuitive, and introspective songs. This 7″ is a promising taste of music from a very promising band.