Foxygen, Sam France and Jonathan Rado are known for being experimental within the genres of classic rock and pop. Having seen them live in concert twice, once at Terminal 5 in New York City and the other at Governors Ball at Randall’s Island, their stage presence, wardrobe/makeup and lighting production are clearly influenced by the likes of Mick Jagger or David Bowie — it’s provoking and flashy. In fact, since Foxygen released their debut album in 2012, “Take the Kids Off Broadway,” Foxygen has even gained the reputation and drama reminiscent of a classic rock band, known for canceling their tour in 2013 after verbally confronting a fan while on stage. Yet, despite all their drama, Foxygen is nevertheless talented and continues to make new music and tour.
In fact, during this winter I happened to read a Pitchfork article discussing the announcement of their new album “Seeing Other People” that released Friday, April 29. Within the article, it quotes France’s remarks on “Seeing Other People” saying, “I remember a quote from Rado sticking with the press a few years ago about how we’d lived every rock’n’roll cliche, in, about, one year. Well, here’s the album about it. Another movie. I don’t know what’s next. But here’s a snapshot of it.” France’s statement left me wondering: What are the implications of this statement? Is this new album going to strive to redefine their image? What is the production or lyrism going to look like? I couldn’t suspend my anticipation for the release.
“Seeing Other People” is comprised of nine songs, with three of the nine released as singles — a bold strategy. The three singles released prior to the album are, “Work,” “Face the Facts” and “Livin’ a Lie” — all of the same caliber, good but not great. On one hand, the lyrics of the verses are bratty and the choruses are extremely repetitive, yet the bridges are quite clever and smooth. On the other hand, the production is fun to dance to (I would definitely look into seeing them live if you have not yet), and utilizes an assortment of sounds from the ’70s and ’80s that add layers to its depth.
But overall, “Seeing Other People” is a six-out-of-10. This album is an exasperating complaint about being a rock star that is supported with experimental and lively production. Depending on your mood, listening to “Seeing Other People” could either be empowering or bothersome. Providing a third of “Seeing Other People” through singles is a bold strategy that did not fully successfully strike and, unfortunately, diminished the rest of the album’s potential for creativity. Foxygen’s goal for what this album is going to present is profound and laudable — aiming to describe the feelings of being a rock star who has lived through it all — however, they missed the mark.
Jeremiah LaCon is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]