Words About Music
Foxygen “…And Star Power”
Sometimes, bands and artists commit what is called “career suicide,” in which they release an album almost as if to completely undo their entire career. Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music” is a famous example, as is Metallica’s “St. Anger.” I don’t even know what you’d call “Lulu.” “…And Star Power,” though, is more than career suicide. It’s a career suicide bombing. A career kamikaze. What was once a fairly agreeable rock and roll band that came off like a slightly more experimental Ty Segall managed to erase all that in less than two years. Foxygen’s most recent album, “We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic,” is a pretty good album. It came out early last year and was my first introduction to the band. Then there were reports of high tension between the band’s principle duo, Sam France and Jonathan Rado. Then there’s “…And Star Power.” 24 song, 80 minutes, and five suites of bizarre, hardly discernible noise.
“…And Star Power” is not an actual noise record. There are songs on here. But these songs are songs in the same way that Butthole Surfers songs are songs. There’s heavy experimentation, sonic assaults, and something vaguely resembling an intentional melody. In fact, most of this album sounds like it was written and recorded in one day. It feels like an early album from the ’80s by a beloved ’90s band. Like if there was a Nirvana album before “Bleach.” There’s still evidence of a psychedelic rock influence, but it’s sort of lost in the lack of interesting ideas. “…And Star Power” is essentially the exact polar opposite of “21st Century Ambassadors.” That album was short, full, and rewarding. “…And Star Power” is long, lacking, and boring to listen to. There’s not much interesting to report from this album. There are a few good songs in the beginning, but that’s as good as it seems to get. As soon as the “Star Power” suite starts, things go downhill.
This album sounds like a descent into terror and insanity. It starts out normal only to spiral out of control. The point is that this album does not even come close to deserving or justifying its length. You expect greatness from an album this long. Instead there is a very obvious lack of confidence. France and Rado aren’t having fun here, they’re just goofing off. I’m almost willing to wager that they did this on purpose to sabotage Foxygen and go their separate ways. Two people with such great ears for music would never stand for an album like this.
If Daniel Johnston was just a crazy guy and lacked any real human emotion or passion, then this is the kind of album that would be produced. Nonsensical lo-fi jamming, poor assembly, and nothing resembling a flow are all problems that plague this album. The first few tracks promise something that the other 20 or so can’t fulfill. There’s sparks of accidental brilliance here and there, but for the most part you should just ignore this album. If Foxygen makes it past “…And Star Power,” I really hope they do better.
SCORE – 1.6
FAVORITE TRACKS – How Can You Really, Coulda Been My Love, Cosmic Vibrations, You & I, Brooklyn Police Station, Hang