Quite a few short commentaries have been written on Cosmic Vibrations now that the official audio has been released. Below is a sampling:
Next month, Californian psych-rock sprites Foxygen return with their new album …And Star Power. First single “How Can You Really” didn’t exactly announce any grand departures from the band’s old sound, and neither did any of the new songs that the band has been playing live lately. But “Cosmic Vibrations,” the band’s new single, suggests that we could be looking at an MGMT-style deep-dive into absolute weirdness. “Cosmic Vibrations” switches back and forth between deep-psych bugouts and goony noise-splashes. The band debuted the song on Tim Heidecker’s Twitter, which further implies that we’ve got a weird-for-the-sake-of-being-weird situation on our hands here.
Whereas Foxygen basked in the folk pop warmth of sunny lead single “How Can You Really”, their latest sounds as though it was born in some musty netherworld. The track starts with ear-shattering noise before morphing into an eerie and ambling lo-fi number — one that seems to come off as more “spooky incantation to raise the dead” than mere “psychedelic rocker.” If Sam France’s devilish bellow doesn’t successfully induce chills, then the crafty organs surely will. Listen in below.
If the upbeat ‘How Can You Really‘ was the proverbial A-side to Foxygen’s stream of singles for the new album …And Star Power, then newest single “Cosmic Vibrations” is the otherworldly B-side, showing a novel psychedelic consciousness from the duo.
‘Cosmic Vibrations’ is spacey. Where ‘How Can You Really’ milked the melodic stickiness that propelled them to the level of success responsible for nabbing them a date at the Fillmore in October, ‘Vibrations’ veers them into the void. It’s wholly weird and features some unnerving psyche sounds, but that much can probably be gauged from the track’s title.
Regardless, the new single suggests the new album will show some serious depth into classic rock tropes.
The tune is wholesome and retro, but also somehow sick and satisfying. The song alternates between the eerie, deep, milky vocals of Jonathan Rado [SIC], and the thin, quavering, pubescent falsetto of Sam France. The ultimate effect is a string of laid-back, complacent ramblings that are effortlessly intoxicating and captivating.
France’s foreboding and hazy lyrics warn; “If you want me you can have me/You can have me but I’m all used up.” This refrain reminds me of an anecdote a friend recently relayed about visiting a Seven-Eleven in the midwest, at which his mother asked the cashier if the gas-station carried baguette. “We’ve got what we’ve got,” replied the woman behind the counter, unapologetically. The vibe of “Cosmic Vibrations” is kind of like that. Foxygen is putting all they’ve got to offer out there; and even though it doesn’t seem like they’re trying all that hard, they’ve simply got what they’ve got. And, like with wonder-bread instead of baguette, chances are you’ll enjoy if you just go with it.
Interpersonal drama from the past notwithstanding, Foxygen have endured their fair share of critical grief for sounding too dubiously like ‘60s psych-pop and folk hacks, and, well, playing up the bohemian image isn’t going to do them too many favors in 2014 either if their intention isn’t to lead listeners into believing they’re merely playing dress up. Jonathan Rado and Sam France will return next month in an attempt to prove all kinds of skeptics wrong with their new album …And Star Power, and it has already managed to surprise these ears with a glamorous makeover stitched with breezy pop with its first single “How Can You Really.” Now we have another entirely different kind of assessment to make with latest preview “Cosmic Vibrations,” however, and it finds Foxygen returning to their divisive ways for stressing out sonic oddities for the sake of art, being long-winded and – according to the message board commentariat – being heavily reductive of a certain Bob Dylan classic. Given that …And Star Power is a double LP that features 24 tracks which should grant them ample room to play around with past influences while exploring their own sound in the present, I’m willing to give up the opportunity of being a cynic here and soak in the weirdness of their story until the full tapestry weaves its way out.
It’s a wandering, trippy affair that bounces between the “sha-la-la’s” of 1960s girl groups and totally eerie, gloom-filled vocals. The forthcoming 24-song mega-album has been previously described as “psych-ward folk” and “cartoon fantasia” — with this cut exemplifying what we would imagine those are supposed to sound like.
UPDATE — A few more reviews that have come in over the past 24 hours:
Now, we’ve got “Cosmic Vibrations,” which takes on a whole different persona, but still reaching towards the late ’70s, early ’80s for influences. It carries an almost Pink Floyd vibe; not as anthemic, but still has the huge goal of carrying that classic rock sound, without feeling forced or played out.
Los Angles songwriting duo Foxygen has returned with a track off their upcoming album, …And Star Power, that is wild, strange, and echoes the ghost of rock n’ roll’s past. A song comprised of separate movements, the track explodes into a wall of noise before slipping into a lulling groove of psychedelic organs and doped out vocals — ending with a kick into a hard-driving chant that makes you want to sweat and dance and try whatever they’re having. It’s a psychedelic trip in itself, retro yet simultaneously unique, and it left me eager to hear more.
I love to love and hate Foxygen. Their first LP was remarkable, so remarkable that when they brought their live debacle of a show to Austin that I had to force myself to walk out (not just go to the bar; I straight up walked out). All that nonsense aside, I’m still quite fascinated with their musicianship. Just listen to this song; it opens with a carnival-esque freak show before folding into this really simple piece of melodic neo-folk. There’s two different vocalists, which shouldn’t surprise since the group is taking 9 people on the road as their band (please rehearse!).