Foxing are an anomaly on modern music since they don’t seem to fit into any categories. With slight instances of every genre they usually create very detailed and in-depth pieces that boggle the mind often yet walk a fine line between snobby and master-craft. So did it fall off of the tightrope or not?
The Dealer starts off with the track Weave, a track when I initially heard I found very disappointing. It seemed a little too ‘cloudy’ and I felt it was outright a boring listen. On the re-listen however I felt much more value for it; it seems Foxing have a habit of causing this. The pieces sounded much crisper, the harmonies more calculated and the sections more profound. It builds and gets better and better, opening the album without a climax but more of a cadence. One that leaves you hanging for the next piece to come along and give the full satisfaction.
Funnily enough that is exactly what happens. The Magdalene is next and probably my favourite Foxing song they’ve ever released. With guitar tones even more refined than the likes of The Medic off of their first album, the progressions are quite beautiful. The lyrics are very methodical and though provoking too with heavily religious connotations, the type of lyrics you’d want to decipher in free time for the satisfaction of understanding the song more thoroughly. The middle eighth is where the song shifts into a whole new level however. With synths playing soothing harmonic effects in the foreground and the drums playing an incredibly unique and inventive sequence; the song becomes more ‘anthemic’. If you treat the song as if it were made in acts, you have act one as the calm before the storm, act two as the climax throwing everything at you and act three the return to reality; the song is a masterpiece.
The lengthy tune Night Channels follows and it left a pretty strong impression again on the second time listening to it. The first time I felt it was needlessly long and unnecessary (it felt like an extra minute of pointlessness on an original runtime) but it’s much more than that. The piano’s little rhythmic piece playing throughout is catchy and recognisable; one of my favourite piano pieces I’ve heard in contemporary pieces ever. The guitar plays very much as backing accompaniment just giving the piece a fuller sound allowing the vocals to take centre stage. Talking of the vocals, they sound much more refined and effortless this time around clearly indicating further progress from their original album. The bridge drags on a little but the drums help add a new texture that I concentrate much stronger upon. The guitars sound a bit muddled at this point and sound a little more screechy than inventive but the final chorus comes in and slams it home. For a 4 and a half minute run time the song really gives you your full buck worth.
Laundered uses bass a bit more appealingly which I find helps vary their sound greatly. Bass was never utilised too strongly in their first album so it is fun that they’ve given it time to be more showcased here in this album. However I found the track a little boring on the re-listen to it doesn’t quite live up to the other tracks effect on me. The guitar again gets lost as just background sound which from a guitarist’s perspective causes the track to suffer a little since the atmospheric effects become the forefront of the track the further it progresses. Hats off to the drummer again though, bloody good showing again.
Indica starts slowly sure and doesn’t benefit from how long the last song dragged for but it does offer a guitar mini melody that is quite catchy on the surface but becomes more and more repetitive the longer the songs pushes on. The vocal melody is a little weak this time round but the lyrics again are to the delight of any keen wordsmith. With deeper meanings behind every syllables; I wouldn’t read into it too much because the song becomes awfully depressing if so. The song adds some drum snare fills around the half way mark which indicate a change but it never really comes to fruition. The pay-off of descending chords in minor doesn’t quite hold you in as strong as I’m sure they thought. The trumpet is different and adds a new texture I’m not used to hearing which is a nice little surprise but I do find it a little unnecessary due to being just another layer with no depth. Perhaps too much reliance on being subtle with filler instrumentation without actually containing much to offer.
Winding Cloth is next and again the tempo is very dreary and slow; it isn’t a genius song-writing move having a simple chord progression drenched in reverb, it’s lazy. The violin is cute but that’s all, just a cute extra layer that doesn’t add much substance to the song. The song was crying out for a memorable melody or something to cut the mould but it came out sounding just like any other orchestral filler track added within an album. Skip this one trust me.
Redwoods has a reintroduction of vocals in it, at last. The album gets caught within two minds in the middle getting muddled with the identity of an instrumental album and with the identity of an emo-progressive album. It’s experimentally predictable if that makes sense, it tries new things you’ve never heard but is shrouded by an overcoat of cliché effects and atmospheric fuzzes that I find are extremely unnecessary. Just as this song picks up the guitars again are flooded by having too much reverb and the vocals disappear not giving any melodic depth to the bridge. The diction is missing too since with the amount of vocal effects put on the lines, you can barely understand a word said.
Glass Coughs is a fan favourite judging by various comments on the album. Hearing it, its starts again in a very predictable mesh. Same melody, same effects, different chords. IT gets a bit too dreary and messy. But the singer does bounce on a falsetto that brings the song much higher and gives it something catchy to hold onto. The drums again are just mouth-watering; they have no stand out fills or anything like that, but they do jump on grooves that I’ve never heard used before within the standard time signatures. The lyrics are somewhat sincere and it’s understandable why so many might like the track because of it. The pros and cons kinda leave the song mixed in a balance of meh and great which means I can’t place it anywhere near as high as The Magdelene. The guitar does attempt a solo but it was barely noticeable and just used as noise again which is eh to me.
Eiffel is another skip… (Nothing changes here of any importance which you haven’t heard before)
Coda is a filler full of effects, so another skip it is…
Three On A Match is difficult. It would seem like a beautifully subtle ending to an album, but here it is a slow snooze fest which actually leaves a bit more of a sour taste on the album. Then tempo is ridiculously slow and not enough progresses or builds to make it worth listenable. The vocals do hit great notes and I’m not against the chords used but you get to a point when you’ve been listening for 40 minutes and just want something to happen other than more reverb.
So all in all how is the album? Pretentious unfortunately… What started off beautiful and sincere was quickly rationalized and fizzled away due to effects being over-used and attempts at being needlessly complex. I’m going to give it a 6/10 since it felt like there were only 6 out of 10 songs even on the album. Stand out performance in The Magdalene and Weave but otherwise it fell apart massively.
6/10 – Falls from grace half way through the album, what could of been album of the year ended as a boring listen.