Category Archives: Reviews

Final Batch of “…And Star Power” Reviews

Here’s another roundup — probably the last one at this point — of reviews of the new album.

Rolling Stone is lukewarm on the album, giving it 2.5 out of 5 stars:

Foxygen seem to know a good idea when they see it, but that doesn’t mean they ignore the bad ones. Their third album is both diamonds and rough – an 82-minute combo plate of half-finished songs, choruses unmoored from verses, bursts of skyscraping beauty and long passages of sonic murk, all vaguely redolent of the Rolling Stones and Jesus Christ Superstar. One side is even subtitled “The Hits,” proving they’re smart enough to know their most appealing material (see highlights like “You & I” and “Flowers”), but smart-assed enough to not care. In 1966, this might have been a radical statement. Today it’s just a facsimile of one.

Something You Said calls it “brilliantly manic psych ward rock ‘n roll” in an entertaining review:

Foxygen’s new album dropped in my inbox like a brick. I had to double-take the 24-track listing. But don’t let that scare you away. …And Star Power is brilliantly manic psych ward rock ‘n roll. I simply don’t agree with Noel Gallagher when he shat out this gem to Rolling Stone, “How arrogant are these people [Arcade Fire] to think that you’ve got an hour-and-a-half to listen to a fucking record?” Shove it Noel. A lot of us have a measly hour-and-a-half for that thing you claim to love, music. So to quote lead singer Sam France, “hold on to your butts and get ready!”

Foxygen is all of your favorite rock bands spat out as a feral love child roaming the modern music landscape with a heavy dose of Surrealistic Pillow’s influence all over this album. With …And Star Power, Foxygen cements their status as a force that’s here to stay. It’s challenging in the most complimentary of ways, and yet it’s the perfect album to throw on at a raging party.

Radio 1190 is positive:

Overall, …And Star Power is a crazy cool cacophony of different sounds and eras. It creates an unparalleled nostalgic atmosphere.  If you are a fan of the group’s last album, …And Star Power may not seem as appealing as its predecessor, but listening to it with an open mind will quickly deliver you into Foxygen’s trippy, vintage, intergalactic, and enchanted realm.

Motiv critiques the excesses but appreciates that they went for it:

In an age where being attached to a major label means less and less as far as success, Foxygen are allowed to test the limits of what their fans will put up with. And although I think unbridled creativity is a great thing in many cases, perhaps Rado and France could’ve used a few of those old-school record company suits to reel them in.

Maybe everyone should take inspiration from their situation, as they are pretty much living out the American ideal of taking what you want without apologizing. Foxygen were hell-bent on releasing a double album, and they didn’t let anything, not even having only half the songs for one, stand in their way. These two hellraisers should put down the rock biographies and go back to absorbing the songwriting talent of the ’70s instead of just the excesses.

Post-Grad Music Reviews gives it a B:

All day I’ve been trying to come up with outdated words to describe this album. Rad? Killer? Kickin’? Foxygen are a classic rock band for the digital age. They always have been. But their new double album, “…And Star Power,” is so classic rock inspired that it explores it as a concept. The album is split into five parts on four sides, all of which represent some faction of a standard classic rock album. And although at 82+ minutes, it’s way, way too long, it provides for an interesting listen as a 24 track album where each song gets crazier than the last.

WRVU Nashville really enjoyed it:

My favorite aspect of the album is the pure diversity across the songs.  Some of the tracks sound like they belong straight out of Motown with incredibly talented, soulful singing, while others sound like they belong to an early Pink Floyd.  The early Pink Floyd sound is especially evident with some of the segues and shorter songs.  Even from the first song, “Star Power Airlines”, you get a slightly more trippy and acid rock feel to the music than previous albums.  Especially when compared to the crisp, clear sound on the majority of their previous album, “We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic”, the raw nature of much of the new album gives the band a fresh edge.  The song “Cosmic Vibrations” exemplifies this perfectly.  The beginning of the song sounds just like a noise collage before it transitions into a 60′s garage rock sounding melody.

The Needle Drop — which was one of the biggest enthusiasts for Take The Kids Off Broadwayis decidedly negative on the new album, giving it 2/10:

Last Week’s Album has a pretty typical “lots of good stuff” but “needs an editor” take on the album:

More “…And Star Power” Reviews

Here’s another roundup of recent reviews of “…And Star Power.”

Consequence of Sound gives it a B-:

Sam France and Jonathan Rado have the type of musical partnership that’s so chemically reactive, it’s tough to say exactly how they should manage it: Are they more impressive when they whittle and polish their spitballs into structured songs and “pop,” or when they don’t? Last year, it wasn’t entirely clear that their breakout album, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, was a product of the former, but it’s clear now. Its successor, the 24-song double LP …And Star Power, is a spitball mural that stretches a full city block, comprised of long swaths of barely revised jams littered intermittently with tiny bombshells of truly gifted songwriting. Juxtaposed with Peace and Magic, Foxygen’s third album provides the evidence to decide for yourself.

[…]

Star Power overwhelms with its personality, one that takes on a wildly different but equally zealous form every three minutes, one that’s exciting for a long while before suddenly making you want to shelve it for a longer while. At the same time, it’s not hard to picture Star Power ending up the kind of album that’s more clearly impressive in 10 years than it is today. Should Foxygen actually be at the start of a long and hyper-fruitful career, this album could retrospectively reveal itself a critical step and deceptively rich in its nonsense. In the meantime, it’s a thrilling if uneven ride.

Mind Equals Blown gives it a 7.0:

If I was to describe what Foxygen sounds like, I would say that they sound like The Misfits dropped acid and resurrected John Lennon while asking Sgt. Pepper to come play with them. I may even go as far as to say that they sound like what pop punk maybe have sounded like if it existed in the ’70s, and then I’d leave it at that while proceeding to find a way to escape the psychedelic madness that is …And Star Power. Unfortunately I have a word limit to abide by, and am going to have to delve even further into the chaos that is …And Star Power.

Where do I start with this album? It is probably the most haphazard and chaotically beautiful thing I have heard this year. If indie had a sub-genre similar to progressive metal then Foxygen would rule that sub-genre with an iron fist, or about as violent a grip that a dreamy mash-up of horror punk and ’90s stoner rock could produce. Most bands tend to stick to one particular sound for an album, while Foxygen go through sounds faster than a teenager goes through ideologies.

WSOE is generally positive:

Instrumentally, the band has come together in a more impressive fashion. You could pick apart the songs and find the older bands that are being emulated, but it is nowhere near as obvious as it was on 21st Century, or even Broadway. Singles like “How Can You Really” and “Cosmic Vibrations” are the most obvious showcases of different generations of rock being mixed to create what truly sounds like a new type of sound. Even Sam France’s vocals sound more like his own personal style, rather than his channeling of Mick Jagger and Lou Reed, although there is still plenty of that.

Aquarium Drunkard examines the album within the context of Foxygen’s larger catalog and is largely positive on the album:

Returning to a tack they’d previously embraced before achieving a measure of critical success, … And Star Power reorients Foxygen’s trajectory, without any regard for making a “follow-up.” In hindsight, 2011’s Take The Kids Off Broadway EP and 2013’s We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic were – in  Star Power’s wake – outliers within their discography.

Those two albums, by turns invigorating and confounding, were the most polished works Foxygen had released to date. They were, however, not debut albums. From 2005-2011, Foxygen made several EPs and at least one “album,” — only no one heard them. Kill Art and Ghettoplastikk are twenty-odd minute journeys through two teenage boys discovering themselves and their sound. They feature as many great, catchy tracks as they do maddening ones, and display an emerging confidence in their studio weirdness. “Jurrassic Exxplosion Philippic” is a 30-song “opera” that’s light on song length and lighter on concentration, but flashes a progressing prodigy. An EP in 2011, and various other tracks (and untold more stowed away on external hard drives) also punctuate what amounts to ten years of output.

[…]

… And Star Power is not “new,” but it is a step forward in Foxygen’s self-determined progression. It’s much more amusing to simply be at peace with the fact that Foxygen completely eschews our normal, boring 3-minutes-is-a-song world than to get ticked off for not getting a record full of “hits.” As demonstrated by adding of twenty-four new tracks into an already robust catalog, Foxygen keeps saying: don’t play anything after it stops feeling good. Move on. Next.

FSU News generally likes the retro vibe, while critiquing the excesses:

With …And Star Power, the crazy pair have crafted a record that works better as a mood piece than it does as active listening. But it is instantly transporting, no doubt. It’s the zany, zoony soundtrack to a film from 1969 that never existed, the crazy sonic ramblings of a bunch of wide-eared kids with eyes too big for their stomachs. It’s imperfect and overzealous and hopelessly indulgent, but that still doesn’t mean it’s not one hell of a trip. There’s no doubt about that.

Entertainment Monthly does a nice job of putting some of the album’s unevenness into the context of an album of this scope:

In accordance with that style,  ...And Star Power reminds the listener of the organization of an album like Pink Floyd’s The Wall. No one is going to listen to “Outside The Wall” on its own, yet The Wall is still considered a great album.

Similarly, a few songs off …And Star Power aren’t particularly appealing when listened to individually, but then again, they aren’t supposed to be. Foxygen takes us on a musical odyssey that can still be contemplated days after listening.

[…]

What really differentiates …And Star Power is that rather than being a bunch of songs on the same album, this is a story, a work of art. Sure, side three has a few songs that remind you of a bad acid trip from a Hunter S. Thompson novel, but again, that’s sort of the point. All books, movies, and stories, will go through different phases. These aren’t just individual songs you can pick and choose from the iTunes store. This is a carefully crafted narrative.

UW Madison’s Daily Cardinal was not a fan:

Despite a strong start that promised a double-album worth 82 minutes, Foxygen couldn’t keep it up. Unfortunately, the album descends into madness as the songs go by, tossing you down a psychedelic rabbit hole of clashing melodies and indecipherable lyrics. The nostalgia is cut with clumsy fuzz and flat stretches of record where you’re left listening to a directionless effort. Even calling it effort seems unjustified. As a band that adopts a hipster persona—disapproving of modern rock and making videos that look like Wes Anderson movies—it truly feels like there are times on the album when France and Jonathan Rado seem indifferent to the final product.

As an editorial aside, I do have to take issue with this sentence from the above review: “In the middle of the album, the three song stretch of “Mattress Warehouse,” “666” and “Flowers” is cotton dry and unoriginal.” If you were trying to critique a 3-strong stretch as dry and unoriginal, seems like that is the worst possible example on the album to use to make that point.

And King Tuff has by far the most unique review of the album — a review that Rado enjoyed:

The open:

Ahh yes, the Foxywoxies have really done something this time. …And Star Power is the sonically demented twin of last year’s breakthrough, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, a black magick sheep who can barely talk and just makes wicked sweet grunting noises when you tell it you love it. This album is a perverted shit-demon with Hollywood sunglasses constantly fucking the line between perfect pop and an amateur teenage punk jam session, a through-composed mountain of ideas that will delight the freaks and send the squares shitting and running. Salty black sprinkles of soft Satan glimmer all over it.

Roundup of Additional “…And Star Power” Reviews

Quite a few new reviews are out now that the new album has officially been released, and they continue the divisive trend. Here’s another roundup:

Mojo likes the album and gives it 4 stars:

LAST YEAR’S REPORTS that tensions between Foxygen frontman Sam France and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Rado were splitting their band apart appear to have come to nothing. If anything, their third album seems like a heavy act of commitment, a renewal of musical vows: …And Star Power is a double album in four sections (including a “suite” and a “Paranoid Side“), all bound together with a ribbon of (very) high-concept fun. Rambling between the clammy psychedelic blandishments of MGMT and the wild-eyed excesses of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, it’s full of turn-ons and freak-outs, pastiche and peculiarity.

The Music also really enjoyed it, giving it 4.5 stars out of 5:

Taking off with Star Power Airlines, the view from Foxygen’s A380 is astonishing as we drift through the perfectly-formed clouds of fluffy retro pop that’s all groovy psychedelic. While How Can You Really is an irresistible pop nugget with big hooks that’s hard to beat, tracks like Coulda Been My Love and You And I offer sweet dreamy vibes that feel like post-Beatles Lennon and very mellow Stones. Imperfectly lo-fi, these tunes radiate a luscious irresistible warmth that stylistically slips somewhere between the ‘60s and the ‘70s.

The Crimson (Harvard’s daily) gave the album 3.5 stars and thinks experimentation is a key to the album’s success:

Foxygen’s experimentalism is a strong component of the album. Vague, inarticulate, boyish screams in the background add an edgy atmosphere to tracks like “Freedom II.” At times, the dynamic chord progression quickly falls apart into slow, pared-to-the-bone guitar solos. Foxygen subverts many expectations of listeners by simply playing what they want and avoiding conventions. This can make the album frustrating to listen to, but it is a fresh change from albums that are too polished.

“…And Star Power” is a continuation of Foxygen’s method: artfully constructed songs that aim to both remind people of an earlier time yet also challenge the genre through experimentation. Mostly, this technique gels well with the lyrics, melodies, and moments of unconventional riffing. Foxygen deftly creates a sound world rooted in the feel-good tradition of psychedelic rock without sacrificing their sense of innovation.

The Oklahoma Daily reveled in the chaos:

For those not familiar with Foxygen, this album may come as a sensory overload. This band is especially known for having an erratic sound, but if you listen closely, it’s more like organized chaos.

These rowdy musicians aren’t just reckless — they’re intentional. The faded synthesized sound, ostentatious song titles and unique use of spoken vocals in the intros and backgrounds of songs creates the perfect canvas for all of their wildest experiments.

[…]

The great thing about 81 minutes worth of music means that we get just that much more genius and creativity from the band. Is it too much? Not at all. There’s something for everyone to like on this album, whether you’re a die-hard Foxygen lover or you’re just looking for a new song to get you across campus.

Radio K also enjoyed the album’s style:

The songs themselves can’t even settle into one mood or genre. “Cosmic Vibrations” launches with fifteen seconds of maniacal, pounding, motorik Krautrock, only to jump ship into glum, Syd Barrett-style freak folk for a few minutes and close with a triumphant ramp that could have been from the Hair soundtrack. On the four-song “Star Power” suite, arguably the album’s centerpiece, the band gestures towards the medieval mythos of early heavy metal; the weirdo-lounge of early Residents; the thundering protopunk of Death; and Exile on Main St.-style honky-tonk recklessness. But these songs don’t descend into pointless genre-parody and they certainly don’t suffer from a lack of original ideas. Like The Mothers of Invention before them, Foxygen manage to balance out their sense of humor and impulse towards chaos with genuinely catchy pop melodies.

What separates this album from the onslaught of stoned and chaotic garage rock records we’ve seen picking the tie-dyed bones of Nuggets over the last few years? I think it comes down to this: …And Star Power isn’t lazy. Foxygen don’t make discombobulated psych rock because they don’t have the facility to write a coherent pop song. They don’t run out of ideas and they rarely repeat themselves. If the legions of young, hip twentysomethings wearing Burger Records patches on their jean jackets and wielding Rickenbackers at basement shows all sounded as legitimately psychotic as Foxygen, I’d have a lot more hope for the future of rock ‘n’ roll.

NME, on the other hand, was less than impressed, giving it a 5 out of 10:

What did Foxygen do next? Well, they wrote a 24-song, 82-minute opus that makes MGMT’s infamously impenetrable second album ‘Congratualtions’ sound like a paragon of all-killer-no-filler professionalism. Obviously. Sloppy and schizophrenic, ‘…And Star Power’ is the sound of record-collection rock having a nervous breakdown.

It’s a shame, because for about 20 minutes it splits the difference between inspired and indulgent, suggesting Foxygen might have it in them to make a great double album.

The Guardian similarly panned it, giving it 2 of 5 stars:

If an artist doesn’t have enough viable material to sustain a single album, it’s surely folly to try to release a double, regardless of the virtues of the underlying conceit. Yet that’s the blunder the Californian duo Foxygen make on their third album, as they ramble across four conceptually vague song suites. Touches of underwhelming psych-folk, jarring fairground music and abrasive garage rock are blended with their soft-rock stylings, but an 82-minute running time stretches the charm very thinly. There are moments when they stumble across something that works, but you suspect that’s more a result of monkeys/typewriters/Shakespeare syndrome than anything more profound. A victory for self-indulgence over quality control.

The LA Times was also less than impressed, finding it hard to take the album seriously and giving it 2 stars:

Most frustratingly, there are enough chunks of quality here — “Mattress Warehouse,” “Flowers,” “Everyone Needs Love” — to still make you drool. A better option, though, is to go a la carte. It’ll save you time, and it’ll stave off the bitter taste of what could have been.

Hey Reverb didn’t like how scattershot it was:

You have to wonder if this is not exactly what the band was going for. Many of these songs—particularly the demented Sesame Street rhymes of “666” and the entirety of the last side of the second disc—sound like demos, due in part to the sound (Foxygen shunned the studio in lieu of going back to the garage to record), but mostly because many of the songs have the imbalanced weight of quickly drafted sketches. This lends it an off-the-cuff charm in the right light, but it can come off as just lazy if you aren’t in the mood.

Most won’t care either way. “…And Star Power” is a confounding listen compared to Foxygen’s debut. On its predecessor’s standard of success, it’s a let down. Then again, there’s a lingering feeling that this is nowhere close to the idea Foxygen strives for the album to be. But there’s an even stronger sense that even they aren’t really sure exactly what that is.

Wondering Sound pans it pretty hard, giving it 1.5 stars:

…And Star Power certainly disintegrates, but at a much faster clip than Rado and France originally imagined. Are there any differences between tracks like “Can’t Contextualize My Mind” and “Brooklyn Police Station” or “I Don’t Have Anything/The Gate” and “Everyone Hang On”? On a technical level the answer is yes, but over the course of listening to Star Power they all merge together, with no distinguishing features or uniquely recognizable moments. The conceptual underpinnings seem intriguing, but there is just no trace of them in the music: “Cannibal Holocaust,” for example, plays a meandering keyboard rhythm over the reverbed, repeated vocals, “Stop telling lies.” “Coulda Been My Love” is a psych-pop track ostensibly about a lost love, but features lyrics like “You can do what you want/ It’s just what we do,” sung with so little feeling it sounds like France is singing to a picture of a picture of a picture that he bought at a thrift shop.

And we’ll round out the negative reviews with AllMusic, which gave it 2.5 out of 5 stars:

The first quarter of the album has the most shadows of what made the band stand out initially. Even the sometimes annoying ambling of “Star Power Suite” eventually coagulates into an anthemic high point with “What Are We Good For,” its third and most songlike movement. Shortly afterwards, however, the album gives in to its overstuffed impulses, offering up half-baked songs, formless jamming, tweaky punk interludes, and what amounts to nearly an hour of trying to separate the muddy filler from anything even remotely inspired. With its few gems often separated by long stretches of queasy, confusing tracks, almost half of the album could have easily been left on the cutting-room floor. That might be the point. The unedited flailing, strung-out production, and half-asleep vibe that permeates much of …And Star Power is no doubt intentional, and works sometimes. Foxygen‘s meticulous attention to detail is one of the best aspects of their sound, and even when they’re burying decent ideas beneath demo-quality performances on songs like “Cannibal Holocaust” and “Everyone Needs Love,” it’s clear they’re making exactly the album they set out to.

 

 

 

Onion’s AV Club Gives “…And Star Power” a B

The AV Club is out with their largely positive review of Foxygen’s new album:

When is musical excess—or more specifically a carefree recording style—a beautiful thing, and when is it purely over-indulgence? With today’s artists’ ability to record wherever and whenever they want and with more ways to create music than in the past, it can be easy to get carried away, adding every sound that’s even a little interesting. Sometimes it’s unintentional; sometimes artists don’t know any better; and some bands do it with intent. On …And Star Power, Foxygen knowingly and purposefully throws everything it has on the album with carefree, lo-fi glee. While it’s far from perfect, at times Star Power plays like a 21st century version of The Beatles’ White Album, with its short attention span flipping the sonic channel repeatedly over the double album’s four sides.

Compared to the band’s last album We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic, Star Power is a less straightforward venture, with the 82-minute run time containing a garbage bag-size assortment of music and sounds. It’s not an album that can be easily consumed like 21st Century, but rather one that that’s best heard lying in a prone position with the sound turned up, getting lost in the band’s bizarre world. Repeat listens reveal more intricacies in the sound. Like most double albums, it often battles to maintain momentum through its run time, but the sonic changes from poignant songs to weird freak-outs keep things intriguing much of the time.

Read the full review here.

 

New York Times Magazine Blurbs Foxygen

Andy Beta wrote up a short capsule on Foxygen for this week’s New York Times T Magazine, giving the band — and the new album — quite a bit of praise:

You can still hear that musical lineage on their latest release, “…And Star Power,” out tomorrow. Taking cues from Todd Rundgren’s ambitious material from the early ’70s, the boys have indulged their every whim on this 82-minute double album. It’s full of hummable hooks that sound as if they’ve been pulled from a parallel dimension’s AM radio, strange half-baked songs and guest turns from the Flaming Lips and White Fence. It’s also a paean to Southern California: “Palm trees, yard flamingos, birthday cake,” Rado lists. To capture that spirit, Foxygen followed in the footsteps of Clark Gable and Sofia Coppola, and camped out at the Chateau Marmont. “We wanted to make an excessive record, and the Chateau Marmont is excessive and satanic,” France says. On the whole, “…And Star Power” feels as messy as a teenage boy’s bedroom — and as oddly endearing.

Read the full article here.

Pitchfork Gives “…And Star Power” a 7.0

Pitchfork has released their review of “…And Star Power”, giving it a 7.0. The review is largely along the lines of most other positive reviews, critiquing some of the excesses but noting the many great moments throughout:

Despite its double-album girth, …And Star Power feels less like a ’70s-rock masterwork than a ’90s indie patchwork in the tradition of Pavement’s Wowee Zowee, Sebadoh’s III, the Olivia Tremor Control’s Dusk at Cubist Castle, and Ween’s earliest brown-outs. This is an album you get lost inside—you don’t so much listen to its four-sided sprawl as free-fall into its increasingly deranged depths. Its kitchen-sink messthetic (parts of which were rendered in Rado’s actual kitchen) encompasses pristine power pop, stoner country-rock, a four-part title-track suite (overture included) that introduces the band’s punk-alter-ego-cum-pirate-radio-station Star Power, space-age bachelor-pad synth doodles, Lou Reed-copping junkie poetry, acid-folk rambles reminiscent of Syd Barrett, Feelies-esque jabber-jangle; and a song that sounds like Suicide crashing a Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello beach party. And that’s all before we’ve even reached Side Three (the one accurately subtitled “Scream: A Journey Through Hell”).

[…]

In its most fully realized moments, …And Star Power is the album Todd Rundgren could’ve released between Something/Anything? and A Wizard, a True Star, its best songs striking an uncanny balance between the exquisite balladry of the former and the progged-out fantasias of the latter. True, the Runt referentialism is beyond blatant: lead single “How Can You Really” is a perfect mirror reflection of “I Saw the Light”, while “Star Power IV: Ooh Ooh” distills the candlelit intimacy of “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference” into a quick post-coital cuddle. (The press release for …And Star Power actually summarizes the album’s ethos—“rock and roll for the skull”—by quoting Patti Smith’s original Creem magazine review of A Wizard, a True Star. Even this band’s self-aggrandizement comes second-hand.)

But for all their shameless appropriation, Foxygen have become increasingly assured and accomplished songwriters, outfitting standouts like “Coulda Been My Love” (the ironically serene source of the intra-band acrimony mentioned at the top of this review), “Cannibal Holocaust”, and “Everyone Needs Love” not just with silken soft-focus melodies and heavenly harmonies, but ever-evolving arrangements that steer the songs into surprising, splendorous new directions without losing the throughline. At their best, a Foxygen song is like that drunk who seems destined to topple over, only to turn their stumble into a perfect pirouette.

[…]

Accordingly, the impenetrable “Cold Winter/Freedom” is preceded by an endearing little snippet of an eight-year-old France’s earliest recording forays, wherein he acts as the on-air announcer for his own imaginary radio station. “Hold onto your butts and get ready!” little Sam declares, and, in essence, …And Star Power is Foxygen’s attempt to recapture that sort of innocence and wide-eyed enthusiasm after a prolonged, public struggle to keep their shit together. But the retroactive warning is nonetheless appreciated: …And Star Power is a long, bumpy ride back to where Foxygen once belonged, and, at times, your butt is bound to feel sore.

Read the full review here.

DIY Magazine Raves About “…And Star Power”

This one is worth a standalone post — DIY has put out the most enthusiastic review for the new album yet, giving it 4 stars:

Even better is how goddamn classic everything sounds. Sure, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison incessantly watch-over the record like a golden-gated community of musical deities. But there can be no complaints when the tracks sound so immortal and timeless. ‘Star Power III: What Are We Good For’ gloriously manages to open exactly like a Velvet Underground track before giving way to an army of hooks; ‘Brooklyn Police Station’ is an infectious slice of 70s pop-rock; ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ sounds part Stones and part plastic-soul. It ain’t some cheap faux-vintage trick; every corner of the album oozes with a feeling that classic sounds are being remoulded and relived into something new.

The real beauty of the record, however, lies in the fact that the whole project is so bloody ambitious. The duo have managed to pull-off a conceptual album and a double-album simultaneously. The former certainly feels fulfilled; the tracks flow into one another very effectively, and vocal or sampled reminders that we’re listening to the fictional group ‘Star Power’, bind everything together to make something very exciting. And the double-album bit? There’s a heck of a lot of slower, ballad-like tracks; but almost all of them bring something fantastically new to the metaphorical table.

Read the full review here.

“…And Star Power” Review Roundup

Reviews are coming in a bit too frequently these days to do standalone posts for all of them, so here’s the first of what will likely be several review roundups, this one covering the past week or so.

Under The Radar Magazine gave it 7/10:

All the warbled tape feedback, two-minute instrumental suites and general horseplay of Star Power will test the patience of those more prone to the polished “San Francisco” and “Shuggie” side of Foxygen, but between the psychedelic sound collages are some moments that really sparkle. Take the verses of “Star Power III: What Are We Good For” when France recites deadpan poetry in the style of a stony Lou Reed, or in the celebratory chorus of “Brooklyn Police Station.”

It’s not as immediately rewarding as Ambassadors, and at times can feel a bit self-indulgent. But it’s hard to fault them, because listening to Star Power gives you the sense that they accomplished exactly what they set out to do: reconnect with the sense of play and reckless curiosity they had when they were teenagers in the garage, messing around with a 4-track and trying to make each other laugh.

BuffaloBlog liked a lot of what the album had to offer, while also criticizing it’s chaos a bit:

If nothing else, this album knows what it is. A paean to musical over-indulgence that celebrates excess and oddity with little regard for what might be expected or even appreciated. That’s not to say, however, that anyone else will know what this album is.

Often when I’m writing about music, I’ll go track-by-track and try to interpret how the lyrics of the songs and the pacing of an album adds up to some sort of thematic whole. I think that this is, largely, not very necessary here. If there’s any sort of message to be divined from ...And Star Power, I expect it’s in the sound and the presentation. (Also, I have a day job, but if anyone wants to comb through the lyrics of these 24 songs and decipher any kind of “story” being told here, by all means.)

Northern Transmissions gave it a 6.6 out of 10:

Aside from Death Grips, Foxygen are the only band in recent memory that maintains the wistful insanity that their psychedelic and glam forebearers established their reputations on. Their unpredictableness has seen them wilding out at shows, accosting audience members, and nearly breaking up (at least according to singer Sam France’s girlfriend), but they’re still here, and still being very weird. Their new record, the double-LP …And Star Power is a cosmic hot mess that could only be made by a band with no qualms about commercial success. Beautiful moments of psych pop sit next to sporadic freakouts, and queasy rockers morph into soaring anthems at the drop of a hat.

The rambunctious spirit of the group is all well and good, but while the band is trying to give off the impression of a catch-all free-for-all like the White Album or Exile on Main Street, what comes off instead is more like an overly long Their Satanic Majesties Request, an album just as known for its shimmering moments, as its excessive, half-baked noodling.

Henry Englert at State in the Real didn’t care for it:

I think what I’m going to try to do here is save some listeners a little time. I listened to this whole album all the way through twice, and honestly, afterwards, felt violated in some way. Getting right down to it, …And Star Power is 82 minutes of disjointed, mind-boggling clips of noise that can piss you off at times. But please don’t get me wrong, there are some great songs hidden in there. The problem is that the good ones are surrounded by all-too-avant-garde, demo-like bits of music that amount to very little.

Matt Bobkin at Exclaim gave it a 6:

Wrapped in a bizarre sonic metanarrative about Foxygen joining and subsequently being taken over by a punk collective, the record highlights a true descent into overindulgent madness, but not before demonstrating a talented band crafting great tunes. The opening stretch from “How Can You Really” to “You & I” is wholly excellent, along with standout “What Are We Good For,” thanks to a chorus of female backup vocalists, Jonathan Rado’s punchy keyboards, daubs of soul, France’s laidback, flowerchild vocals and a scant layer of warm analog fuzz. Beautifully wistful folk rocker “I Don’t Have Anything/The Gate” and slick, jangling piano rocker “Cannibal Holocaust” round out the first LP with style and versatility, and a great album composed mostly of fantastic tracks, with a wee bit of comparative filler, could have ended there.

Unfortunately, the second disc, when the punk collective takes over the band, is where the album completely falls apart.

The Alternate Side plays up the indulgence but was generally pleased by the album:

All of which helps make … And Star Power, at an overstuffed and at times seemingly unedited 82 minutes, feel like a throwback in every way. For all its title’s talk of star power, the real subject here is excess in all its forms: the unhinged vocal performances, the worship of ’70s power pop, the way experiments are both embraced and quickly, unceremoniously discarded. Renowned for its shambolic early live shows, Foxygen’s Sam France and Jonathan Rado know how to keep one foot on each side of the line separating barely contained genius from undisciplined indulgence.

[…]

Still, Foxygen doesn’t squander its gift for impeccable, vintage-sounding Technicolor studio pop: For all their shagginess, “How Can You Really,” “Star Power III: What Are We Good For” and others hit giddy, playful highs. But on …And Star Power, Foxygen mostly exhibits self-control as a means of demonstrating a willingness to loosen its grip. The result cracks open a fire hydrant of ideas meant to tantalize and frustrate, dazzle and baffle. Mission accomplished, all at once.

Dixie Sun News enjoyed the album. giving 4 of 5 stars:

Few modern projects culminated from rock ‘n’ roll’s roots sound as immediate as Foxygen’s fourth studio album, “…And Star Power.” Clocking in at an ambitious 80 minutes, it laments the band as a prominent garage rock act like The White Stripes’ and MGMT’s breakthrough albums did years prior.

“…And Star Power” exhibits no direction and never hints at what comes next on its ever-shifting track list. The intro, “Star Power Airlines,” and its Jack White-esque, precision-pumped chords should send the album into a more psychedelic ode to punk rock.

But it doesn’t. And “How Can You Really,” the project’s second track and first single, pushes the concept of rock as an all-encompassing genre to levels unheard since Jagger and The Rolling Stones.

Baeble Music only gave it 2 of 5 stars:

Despite all of these frustrations there are moments of genius, moments found when the band reaches beyond the strictures and structures of their forebears and cuts loose with beautiful racket. Just listen to the cacophony of “Cold Winter/Freedom,” a mlange of noises loud and quiet, tones low and high, so ramped up with feedback and distortion that for a second it sounds like the band is picking up where Sun 0)))) left off and is actually moving a whole style of music forward. “Wally’s Farm” plays with a different kind of noise, generated by psychedelic, dubby twists and turns on the organ and the trumpet; it’s a fantastic bit of nonsense that somehow slipped off of a future Hirokazu Tanka soundtrack. No, neither track is suis generis, but they demonstrate that Foxygen have the potential to build off of other musical styles rather than wallow in them.

 

 

 

 

SceneWave Reviews “…And Star Power”, Compares it to an Episode of Dr. Who

Samantha Groth at SceneWave reviewed the new album, giving it a positive 8/10:

But then, suddenly, everything changes.‘Cosmic Vibrations’ races back into the void, pushing the line from gorgeous ditty to dark ode, to deep voices and slow, minimalist movement. Being a Foxygen song, it never strays too far, seamlessly transitioning back in a brighter jazzy tune by the end. The track marks the signature of the entire album – diverse as shit, traipsing between noisy mess and gorgeous lilt, begging to be turned up just a little louder. A Foxygen album seems to be pretty similar to an episode of Doctor Who: an endlessly exciting journey through time and space – oh, and it’s bigger on the inside 😉

[…]

The smorgasbord of goods (look, we started talking about cheese, don’t expect me to stop now) unfortunately makes it easy to tune out or lose focus by this point. Twenty four tracks is a big investment, but if anyone can return on that investment, it is Foxygen. And while the album as a whole could do with a little more structure, if you can manage to tune in for the best moments, it’s undoubtedly worth it. Personal highlights include ‘Flowers’, ‘The Game’ and ‘Everyone Needs Love’.

..And Star Power is wild and varied business. It’s worth starting from the middle after you’ve had a couple of listens, as a way to maintain your attention span. Each track seems like it’s from a new planet, rather than one albums, and no matter where you start; it’s all out of this world.

Read the full review here.

New York Observer Reviews Foxygen’s “Kinda Brilliant” New Album

Mixed review of “…And Star Power” from the New York Observer — they critique the sprawling style of the album along with its production, but acknowledge (and praise) it’s many individual great moments:

The first issue of The New York Review of Books, published February 1, 1963, featured a critique of John Updike’s then-new The Centaur by Jonathan Miller. “This is a poor novel irritatingly marred by good features,” the review began. Repeated airings of Foxygen’s …And Star Power bring Miller’s droll comment vividly to mind. On the whole, the fourth full-length opus by these L.A. indie rockers can’t be called anything other than a self-indulgent mess. Still, every now and again, glimmers of pure brilliance stand out in the muck.

[…]

I get the sense that Foxygen is trying very hard to immerse listeners in its own distinctive sound world, and that world is lo-fi in the extreme. Instruments and voices are woefully recorded. Tape hiss is so omnipresent that it’s practically another member of the band. This approach has worked before for plenty of artists—Guided By Voices and the Bevis Frond, to name just two—but it doesn’t work so well when coupled with oddly tentative singing and playing, dodgy tempos, and half-baked songwriting. And while Mr. France’s tendency, especially later in the album, to break into wild screams and whoops is clearly derived from Iggy Pop’s unhinged performance on the Stooges’ Fun House, there’s a huge and undeniable difference between the two. The Stooges rocked. Foxygen only judders a bit.

And yet … The album’s (well-chosen) leadoff single, “How Can You Really,” is blissful power-pop of the Todd Rundgren school. The sorta-ballad “Cannibal Holocaust” veers thrillingly from a slow evocation of Satanic Majesties-era Stones to a laid-back groove that channels the wispy beauty of Buckingham/Nicks-era Fleetwood Mac. The nasty, beat-skipping guitar riff that forms the backbone of “Talk” is a new garage-rock classic. Of the 24 songs on …And Star Power, at least half contain something—a surprising melodic turn, a wayward bass line, a gutsy horn blast—that grabs the ear in a positive way. None of these moments justify the whole, I’m sad to say, but they show what this band could do (and has done in the past) when it focuses.

Read the full review here.