“With [21st Century Ambassadors…] we were really trying to make a literal snapshot of the ’60s,” says France, sitting next to Rado on the same particle board box. “We didn’t care. We wanted to reproduce that completely. We didn’t care about being original or anything. The new album is a little more vague, a little more mysterious.”
To many, “originality” is a prerequisite for “good” or “important” music, and it’s not surprising that despite the charm and polish of their first album, it had its fair share of detractors. …Star Power is likely to face just as much criticism, as it’s a double album. In the age when albums are marketed behind readymade singles above all else, the grandiose double album is antiquated. Any attempt to make one is generally seen as self-indulgent, and what results is usually bloated and overwrought. But just as Foxygen were setting out to copy the music of the ’60s on We are the 21s Century…, so too were they diving headfirst into the double album and all its associations when they recorded …Star Power, which was pared down from over 100 songs and ideas for songs they had written since recording We Are the 21st Century…. “It’s a double album that plays into the tropes of a double album,” Rado says. “It’s self-aware.”
“That’s kind of the point of it,” France adds. “We wanted it to be ridiculous.”
In many ways, …And Star Power and its accompanying live show serve as the culmination of all that Foxygen has been through, musically and otherwise. Their first release, the 2012 EP Take the Kids Off Broadway, was the raucous, excessively overdubbed effort of a band that was still trying to figure out how to make a record. We Are the 21st Century… was, by contrast, polished and concise, recorded with the help of producer Richard Swift (the Shins, the Black Keys). Not only have they honed their live show to near-perfection—on Wednesday night, Rado tactfully maintained his composure after a wannabe stage-diver knocked over his keyboards (although he did later say “fuck that guy”)—they have also figured out how to truly be themselves on a recording. …And Star Power, which they produced themselves, is as rough and distinctly them as Take the Kids Off Broadway, but also polished and coherent in a way that doesn’t belie this spirit. For the first time, they sound more like “Foxygen” than the acts that came before them. But a band once defined by its influences is a band always defined by its influences.