This is a low.
In the entire history of the human race there have been several occasions where the world has, for what seems like a sliver in time, descended into a hellacious cacophony of mangled screams. World War 2, The Spanish Inquisition, the Black Plague, Spanish Flu, and, now, the new Foxygen album. It didn’t have to be this way.
In the beginning they were fine. Their first LP proper, Take the Kids off Broadway, was a perfectly functional adjunct to the late 60’s/early 70’s revival movement. Everything it did it did fine and without much of a fuss and when the album was over you were left with a pleasant sort of satisfaction. Then they released their second LP proper We are the 21st . . . and, if only for a second, their pleasant mimicry evolved into a very satisfying pastiche, a really interesting sonical tour of a bygone era. It even had puns!
But then they had a troubled year; Pitchfork emancipated themselves, Tour melt downs, interpersonal strife, whatever. The band retreated within itself and, judging from this album, felt the need to recapitulate their central conceit. And so, Star Power was born.
Putting aside, for a second, the overbearing length of the LP, it just confuses me that someone, somewhere felt that this had to be released. I mean, there are entire songs dedicated just to screaming, songs just for yelping, and songs wherein young white people play crude imitations of ‘Sister Ray’. It seems to operate under the assumption that if you just put in enough stuff then eventually it becomes good and meaningful. At a certain point you just have to cut things. The entire third suite, for example, is just a tired inversion of DIY attempts at Punk Instrumentals. It’s deliberately alienating, but in a way that’s just not interesting. This all compounds to a length that’s really not defensible; there’s around three or four songs that settle into an acceptable sort of groove, offering an even sharper contrast against all the other tracks, the ones that fail to establish themselves and meander to their painful, sluggish conclusions.
There’s no way for me to organically segue into this: the general production and mixing of this album make it sound like it was recorded in the asshole of a racist ghost in hell. Everything just sounds so narrow, almost mono, as if whoever engineered this had no concept of space. The vocals are mixed so low so as to incite frustration and mockery. Most of the lyrics are worthless (even though you can’t really hear them) and the ones that do cohere around a point or theme are generally so fucking dull (‘How can u luv someone who don’t luv u???’) so as to incite blind, irrational hatred. Even Lana Del Rey/Ray (Which one is right? Find out in the comments!) would be embarrassed with the type of nonsense coming out of Sam France’s mouth.
I think, earlier in the review, I underplayed my affection for 21st Ambassadors. It’s a great album. I was really excited about this. Hell, I was excited when I heard it was a double. I was already drawing up, in my head, neat little comparisons between this and the White Album. And then I fucking heard it. Guys, Gals, this is a terrible no good very bad album. It’s kind of like coming home to find your significant other in bed with eleven other people, all of whom are homeless. It’s not just a terrible feeling, it’s fucking confusing. Why are they all homeless? Is it on purpose or just by chance?
Why Sam Beam, why?
The Spanish Flu: 0.2/10
Foxygen – And Star Power: 0.2/10
Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!: I don’t like Jazz.
Stereogum: Fuck You/10