Foxygen make postmodern music. Ever since their 2013 breakthrough album We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic (and even before that, with Take The Kids Off Broadway), Sam France and Jonathan Rado have become masters of recycling references in a veiled manner. They manage to play with influences while reinventing the past by changing the way we look at it, without ever diving too deep into any kind of compromise.
As their 2014 double album …And Star Power’s tour came to an end, many questioned the future of Foxygen — especially because their shows were advertised as a “Farewell.” The way I read it, however, was that the duo was once again in need of reinventing themselves both musically and conceptually and that new material would eventually surface — although I had absolutely no idea which path they would follow next. Vital signs were provided back in 2015 under the form of a very weird track uploaded to Soundcloud called ’24 Hour Lover Man’. An apparent lack of direction still seemed to hover over their heads although, as I’ve come to realise as I get to know them better and better, they knew exactly what they were doing.
And when a teaser video for “new Foxygen music” surfaced on their Facebook page last fall, I was sure something grand was coming our way. First, they gave us ‘America’, the breathtaking mini rock-opera that lived up to Rado’s proclamation that he wanted to do a “Disney album,” and then they announced a brand new full-length as they unleashed ‘Follow The Leader’. They were back, and kicking.
Hang shows Foxygen maturing and relishing their time. The overall vibe of the album breathes a patience that wasn’t around before, yet at the same time, it invokes a subtle yet familiar irony with the unashamed urgency of a nouveauté. Intense and majestic, sumptuous and nostalgic, Hang is sonically much nearer to …And Star Power than to We Are the 21st Century…, yet it contrasts with the former due to the obvious differences in format, the most immediate one being its runtime. While …And Star Power offered us an hour-and-a-half of intense voyage, Hang is only eight tracks long, and not the proggy kind of “eight tracks”.
Straight to the point, it seems to arrive as a reflection on the previous two albums but also as a bridge; a gap filler. Hang doesn’t carry the weight of being a closer of any kind, for it demands no conclusion by raising more questions than it provides answers. Its questions, though, are directed towards Foxygen’s own world. Even though it features several guests (including The Lemon Twigs, whose brilliant 2016 debut album was produced by Rado himself), Hang seems to be more of a relaxed and intricate inside-joke that also happens to be relevant enough for us to participate in — if only as spectators.
Utterly theatrical, it represents without presenting; evokes without mentioning; transports without moving. It’s as fake as the time we’re living in, and as fascinating as our own decadence.
Originally published at https://www.thefourohfive.com.