Album Review: Foxing – ‘Nearer My God’
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I’m not sure what I expected, but I was completely blown away. The risks taken on Foxing’s third LP are what made this record something special. For those of you just joining us on the Foxing bandwagon, Foxing is a self-proclaimed emo band, and they’re one of my favorites for their use of R&B and slow rock influences along with vivid songwriting and heavy experimentation. But even measured against their past discography, this is their “Fuck it, let’s do it” album. Somehow in their messing around, mixing influences and reinventing songwriting formulas like mad scientists, they created the classic they set out to: Nearer My God.
“Luck bent low roar drum pressed to the glass, the glass pressed loose soft spots marked on the wall. Wall an empty stomach, I’ve done nothing right.” After the entire opening track builds to these lyrics recklessly chanted at the climax, it’s breathtaking. “Grand Paradise” not-so-subtly brings you to the new sounds explored with Nearer My God. It’s a vibrancy of sound and chaos. Vocalist Conor Murphy begins the track by whispering above the aforementioned slow rock, but there’s still urgency about the instrumentals. It all comes to a crash during the second chorus.
The single “Slapstick” has a perfect positon in the album, keeping a lyrical theme from “Grand Paradise”–fucking up everything. Describing the current state of the union, “Slapstick” has a slow, twinkling beginning, building at the climax with heavy reverb and electric buzz. Alternatively, the single “Gameshark” is fast-paced all the way through, with energetic instrumentals. Once again, you are reminded of just how intense and vast the album gets. But as far as singles go, the title track is probably my favorite for the meaning and swirling guitars, even having an acoustic moment. “I just want to be hot,” Murphy explains in Nearer My Pod, the mini podcast released ahead of the album to give depth behind it.
“Lich Prince” begins with just Murphy’s voice, echoed as he sings about a relationship. The hook “I just want real love for you” repeats itself throughout as the music changes from heavy hitting to swirling synth and piano. One of my favorite parts about this record is how much happens musically, making some of the best streches almost impossible to put into words that make sense.
“Trapped in Dillard’s” is a ballad about real-time being trapped in the mall and in your thoughts. It has a futuristic feel in its musicality, Murphy’s voice almost sounding far away. This musical move was a good set up for “Bastardizer,” which in its beginning, handles sizzling synth the same way. Every song impacts differently on this album, but if there are a pair of songs that go together, I’d say it was these two.
Do you ever get confused about how good something is? If not, give “Won’t Drown” a listen. The beginning is enough to get you invested, Murphy trading in his soft, warm vocals of the last two tracks for a scream in the first verse, another common theme with this record. The thing about “Won’t Drown” is the sonic cohesion. The music blends together, going only as far as it needs to. Changing itself up a lot, giving you a fresh take throughout. I love it.
“I spent so long at the gates, Heaven won’t take me in.” While the seemingly random influences and genre blending combinations might throw you off, this record was completely intentional. These lyrics from album closer “Lambert” solidify that. Taking its name from a church hymn and relating that directly to this final song, title track sounding congregational, Foxing knew what they were doing. For once, I’m saying “The audacity!” in a non-mocking, completely celebratory tone. In interviews leading up to the release, the band often compared themselves to other bands’ classic records. I didn’t know enough about those bands and those records, so I couldn’t visualize the connection. After listening to their album fully, I now understand, but I would say that this is the “Nearer, My God, to Thee” of Foxing’s discography. That’s a reference which makes much more sense to me.
This album is a huge stretch away from The Albatross and Dealer musically, but that is exactly what Foxing needed to come into their own with this record, creating their own timeless classic.
Disappointing / Average / Good /Great / Phenomenal
Nearer My God is for sale now on vinyl or digitally from Triple Crown Records on the Foxing merch store.
Kayla Carmichael // @kaylacarmicheal
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