Count Your Lucky Stars definitely have a knack for signing artists capable of producing brilliant music in its most genuine form. Foxing are no different, and the their debut LP ‘The Albatross’ is another sure-fire success to be released by ‘the little label with a lot of love’. The St. Louis band have already caused a stir with a number of singles brimming with promise and the ten tracks they offer up on their debut release are no different, coming together beautifully to form one of the year’s best releases.
It would be easy to throw Foxing in with all the other artists who play emotional music, but to do so would be an injustice. ‘The Albatross’ is a very special record, which could well be the most important release within the genre for a few years. It perfectly encapsulates everything music of this nature should be, and to me that’s defined as music that makes you feel something. It makes you reflect; makes you sad; makes you happy; makes you both blissfully unaware and painfully aware. Foxing tick all of the above on ‘The Albatross’. With elements of indie-rock, shoe gaze and occasional post hardcore you end up with a varied, ambitious, and ultimately effecting release that isn’t afraid to lay itself bare or spread its wings, excusing the pun.
There’s a great deal of atmospheric and stunning instrumentals on ‘The Albatross’ and opening track ‘Bloodhound’ begins with one. Violins merge with haunting production before vocalist Connor Murphy chimes in with very poignant vocals before more instrumental layers and group vocals are added. There’s a certain genius to ‘The Albatross’ which is only bolstered by the addition of horns and pianos which blend perfectly with the more traditional instruments. Guitarist Eric Hudson’s American Football-style tip-toeing melodies dance over technical drumming, bursting into life when the emotional intensity is stepped up a level or toned down for the bleak and more hard-hitting moments like on ‘Rory’, the albums best track. A haunting instrumental intro unfolds delicately as Murphy gives one of the most emotionally powerful performances I’ve ever heard, lamenting ‘So why don’t you love me back?’ over wintery bleak instrumentals. It’s a brooding and striking track that makes a listener feel incredibly alone whilst surrounded by life. The record itself is perfectly suited for the upcoming months, as ‘The Albatross’ has hatched (excuse another pun) at exactly the right moment. It reminds me somewhat of ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ by Bon Iver, who Murphy resembles at times, because the record has a feel to it that’s cold enough to match snowy days whilst burning bright enough to warm them.
‘The Albatross’ is excellent lyrically, avoiding clichés and remaining effecting. Murphy’s vocal style fits the subject matter, as he instantly switches from sing song melody to a more forced and passionate delivery on tracks like ‘The Medic’. ‘Bit By A Dead Bee Pt.1’ is even reminiscent of La Dispute, with heartfelt lyrics yelled over a gorgeous sounding crescendo, developing from a first few minutes that would put Death Cab For Cutie to shame. Influences like these are littered throughout ‘The Albatross’ and the band manage to take elements from the genres best and channel them in their own unique and charming way. ‘Den Mother’ is breath-taking once it explodes, whilst ‘Bit By A Dead Bee Pt.2’ is constantly excellent, especially from a vocal and instrumental perspective as Murphy states ‘I think I’m so detached that I don’t feel sound for anyone anymore’ in fitting with the records themes of isolation. The quality that ‘The Albatross’ constantly displays is particularly impressive considering it marks the bands debut, and wherever they go from here could make them one of the best bands on the planet. ‘Quietus’ ends the record on spectacular form; although it isn’t quite the storm that previous track ‘Calm Before’ suggests it might be. The closer starts off as a touching acoustic affair and as it progress it unfurls, bringing in the group vocals of the opener and ending on a blissfully uplifting climax that, if anything, makes you appreciate just how good the entire record actually sounds.
My only criticism would be the albums length at ten tracks long, two of which are instrumental fillers. It’s easy to overlook considering how good the eight tracks are, but I can’t help wishing there was a little more to be wrapped up in..
Ultimately, ‘The Albatross’ is a truly magnificent record, sublimely crafted and immaculately pulled off. I thought so after my first playthrough and felt the same after my tenth. It soars in a similar way to its namesake, and pulls you down to earth just as quickly. It’s a rollercoaster effect, and the record is definitely a journey; one that deserves to be undertaken again and again. It takes a very rare form music to make a listener feel and to also make them appreciate music on a much deeper level. This is what Foxing do so well, and do for the entirety of their debut release. ‘The Albatross’ is a record to completely lose and immerse yourself in, and if you don’t then you’re missing out on one of the best musical experiences of 2013.
(28/05/2014) At the time of writing this six months ago Foxing were signed to Count Your Lucky Stars, but have since signed with Triple Crown Records, who chose to remaster and re-release The Albatross. I bought the vinyl from them and received a digital copy of this remaster, which I do feel is better than the original. It keeps the raw aspect of the bands music but polishes it, cleaning it up. Vocals shine through more noticeably and instrumentation packs a punch in a way that, admittedly, it did originally but moreso here. I’d say that this version of The Albatross is superior, and if you’ve yet to pick this up (for shame!) I’d recommend going through Triple Crown, as they’ve managed to improve a record which was already pretty damn special to begin with.
Rating – 9/10
Listen to – ‘Bloodhound’ / ‘Rory’ / ‘Bit By A Dead Bee Pt.1’
Stream it here: http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=3520771