Album Premiere: Pet Fox—’Pet Fox’

Posted: by The Editor

Photo by: Ben Stas

A pet fox would be a domesticated beast of prey. An animal who is, however timid around humans, fierce and deadly to the world’s population of smaller critters. A pet fox could perhaps be trained to resist its primal instincts and behave like a sweet and loyal house doggie, but there’d always be the looming threat of blood-lust upon the spying of a rogue rabbit or tabby cat. It would be fun to have a pet fox, but it would also be kind of intimidating and unpredictable. Pet Fox the band are sort of like that in a musical sense. Most of their songs are subdued and hyper-focused, but they’ll unsuspectingly lunge forward into mini-bursts of post-hardcore rage.

The band’s personnel—two members of Ovlov and the drummer from Palehound—provides a logical context for their sound, but Pet Fox, their debut LP that we’re premiering below, avoids sounding like a derivative side-project. The reverby, foggy vocals and general cloudiness of tracks like “Play Fair” and “How To Quit” recall the more tempered side of Ovlov that dominated their 2018 comeback, Tru. But the drabness is outnumbered by edgy, Superchunk-ish power-pop (“Staying In”), swaying surf balladry (“Be Alone”), and the quirky bassline melodicism of Flasher or Ought (“Play Fair”). None of these tracks have the pop tact or vocal personality of Palehound songwriter Ellen Kempner, but songs like “Grown Up” and “How To Quit” do share that Palehound flammability. That edge-of-the-seat feeling that the songs could explode at any moment—which the aforementioned two do by their respective finales.

The project is a slender eight tracks, and standouts like “Grown Up” and “Staying In” do their duties in less than two-and-a-half minutes. However, the most rewarding cut is the near-six-minute closer “Disengaged.” It’s a dizzying number that begins as another unassuming slowcore ode before spiraling into an In Rainbows-esque glide, speckled with strings and vocally layered in a distinctly Yorke-ian manner. The song expands like a branch growing in real-time before abruptly snapping, the churning intro riff reintroducing itself with an addition of crashing fuzz. The bassline marches forward but the heaviness gradually recedes, slipping into a stunningly regal piano outro.

Unlike the Exploding In Sound-indebted cuts that precede it, “Disengaged” quite literally detaches itself from the rest of the record and translates the frosty aesthetic of Alex G’s “Icehead” and Strange Ranger’s “Life Would Be Cooler” into visionary Brit-rock. It’s a dazzling yet insatiable ending to what’s an otherwise satisfying lunch of 2010’s insider indie rock. If Pet Fox further explore the right corners of this thing, there’s a reasonable chance this side gig could eclipse their respective main projects.

Stream Pet Fox in full below ahead of its official release tomorrow:

Eli Enis | @eli_enis

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