Foxygen – Take The Kids Off Broadway

Ordinarily, the more influences you can pick out from an album, the easier it is to describe its sound and namedrop reference points. However, what do you do about an album like Take The Kids Off Broadway? An album that keeps dripping and spewing influences (mainly the 60’s) in a most hilarious, postmodernist, cut-and-paste way? From The Velvet Underground to The Walker Brothers, you have it all, and yet it feels like an absolutely cohesive ride – everything blending so effortlessly and so beautifully. Still, I’ll give it a shot. Gun to head, I’d say that this album sounds like The Mothers Of Invention caught up in the British Invasion haze, with Frank Zappa inexplicably hiring Mick Jagger to be the lead singer. Can you imagine a thing like that?..

The only information you will get from the ridiculously brief Wikipedia article is that Foxygen is a Californian duo of Jonathan Rado and Sam France and that Take The Kids Off Broadway is their full-length debut (there was one EP in 2011). Basically, what these two guys are doing here is creating a wildly entertaining pastiche of that unfading decade – sucking up most 60’s genres and splashing them all over your face in a way that is both clever and creative.

You could probably write a book about these seven songs and the numerous shifts and mutations they undergo. Phase effects, vocal melodies piling on top of each other, maddeningly diverse instrumentation, arrangements that are as glorious as they are amateurish and lo-fi. To say nothing of Foxygen’s stylistic exuberance that makes them hop from doo wop to British psychedelia in a matter of several seconds. As for the vocals, on occasion the singing guy does indeed sound obscenely similar to Jagger. Not that anyone would mind, of course. While the album features only seven songs, it’s not exactly short (slightly over 36 minutes) – much of the running time is taken up by the amazing epic ‘Teenage Alien Blues’ that simply offers too many ideas in the course of its 10 minutes to bore you for one second. Unforgettable tunes, inventive hooks – what else is there to wish for?.. I’d mention the soulful ‘Waitin’ 4 U’ and the closing ‘Middle School Dance (Song For Richard Swift)’ as my personal favourites (the vastly underrated Richard Swift is a contemporary influence), but it really is all wonderful.

‘Messing up the 60’s’ could be the tag line, and Foxygen are cynical romantics. There’s certainly a great danger that Take Your Kids Off Broadway will end up being that proverbial brilliant one-off (would you really like to hear them do that all over again?). Still, you have to admit: in a time when everybody sounds like a rip-off, these guys rip off basically everything and still sound fresh, original and totally convincing. You really owe it to yourself with this one. This is enormous fun.

Released on 24th July 2012 by Jagjaguwar Records