Foxygen, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
The two guys who make up Foxygen, believe it or not, are kids. No, they really, seriously are; despite all appearances to the contrary, Sam France and Jonathan Rado graduated from high school just a handful of years ago.
And trust me, I get why that’s somewhat mind-boggling. After all, Foxygen’s debut full-length, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, sounds like it came straight out of the late ’60s, funneled right to the modern day via some kind of paisley-tinged waterslide vortex thing. It grabs hold of nearly every damn good thing about the music of that era and squishes it together into a faithful-yet-new hybrid creation that’s part vintage psych-pop, part throwback soul, and part old-school garage rock.
While a lot of stuff like this absolutely comes off like a pair of teenagers goofing around with their parents’ (er, probably grandparents’, at this point) record collections, Foxygen manage to make it all sound reverent and honest, an honest-to-God labor of love.
The result swings between hazy, bumping ’60s psych like “In The Darkness” — which, incidentally, throws a very cool Hendrix guitar sound into the mix — fuzzed-out funk/soul like lead single “Shuggie,” “Oh Yeah,” or “On Blue Mountain,” and messy, noisy rawk that owes a heavy debt to both the Velvets and the Stones, like “No Destruction” or the title track.
And if it isn’t already obvious, hell, I’m hooked like a goddamn fish on a line. I dig the horn-tinged sweetness of “In The Darkness,” utterly love the soulful yet desperate and lost feel of “On Blue Mountain” (which is the most resolutely cracked-yet-mesmerizing pop song I’ve heard in a while), sway and smile to the drifting, jaunty, regretful “San Francisco,” and bob my head to the swirling, gorgeously Beatlesque “Oh No 2″ — which, incidentally, blurs the line between the Beatles and the Flaming Lips so thoroughly you’ll believe it was never there in the first place.
Do I feel like I understand Ambassadors? No; no way. Not yet, anyway. But with each listen, I feel myself getting pulled deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, grinning like a fool the whole way and feeling confident that something truly, truly amazing awaits at the other end. Want to come along?
(Feature photo by Angel Ceballos.)