Californian duo Foxygen have always had a reputation for being theatrical, a little bit eccentric and obsessed with the glitz and glamour of the past. Their latest record Hang is no different.
Hang sounds like an unsolicited throwback to nostalgic 70s pop as it constantly teeters between being ambitious and overly pretentious. It’s Broadway musical meets Elvis – a far cry from the indie-psychedelic masterpiece that was We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic. It’s clear that Foxygen are yet to find their niche. Their last record, 2014’s And… Star Power sprawled across 24 unrelenting tracks. Hang is a breath of fresh air in this sense; it is refined with 8 tracks spanning approximately half an hour.
It is a technically masterful album, featuring a chaotic 40-piece symphony orchestra which provides a beautifully cinematic backdrop to Sam France’s crooning vocals. The record starts on a high with lead single ‘Follow the Leader.’ It’s a sophisticated, poppy track, infused with violins, that sounds like the familiar Foxygen from their previous albums. Tracks such as ‘Mrs Adams’ and ‘On Lankershim’ also stand out as they highlight the versatility of influences that range from glam rock to country. However, the record does disappoint on over-indulgent and excessively theatrical tracks such as ‘Avalon’ and ‘America.’ They sound like they have been lifted directly from the soundtrack of a Disney movie and threaten to make a parody of the entire album.
The new record won’t be for everybody and it threatens to divide Foxygen fans. For those of us who have been longing for a record as captivating and unique as 2013’s We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, Hang is definitely a step in the right direction.
Hang plays like a miniature rock opera with beautiful orchestral arrangements and cinematic vocals. It may be over indulgent but it’s highly entertaining.