Hang Onto Your Broadway Seats
While Foxygen only produce eight tracks for their most recent album, upon taking a closer listen, this package is bursting at the seams. In fact, it can be a real challenge to listen to Hang in its entirety in just one sitting. It is almost like watching a broadway show on television—interesting, yes, but somehow always overdone.
Hang has been described as a concept album, as Foxygen members Jonathan Rado and Sam France have been said to picture this music set to a film. With the consistent use of a 40-piece big band, an entire percussion and string section and France’s vocals as the leading star in every scene, it’s certainly easy enough to picture this album on Broadway.
Foxygen’s style has evolved so much in the three years since their prior album ...And Star Power. Hang is absolutely inspired by classic rock like Queen and even the Stones, but it also throws in some Dixieland and ’20s style jazz, with a smattering of ABBA.
The album opens with “Follow the Leader,” which began the entire concept of Hang. This opening track is soulful and lavish, but still easy listening. “Avalon” then shifts the scene further into show tune territory, and the chorus singing, “avalon,” is reminiscent of ABBA’s “Waterloo”. “America” is in a similar vein, but even more over the top, almost appearing to mock cheesy Broadway tunes. France plays the role of a struggling artist or actor, hopeless or maybe hopelessly in love, pretty well in each scene.
“On Lankershim” and “Trauma” are more soulful, bringing Ray LaMontagne to mind. “Upon a Hill” is dark and brooding and brings some ’70s rock into the Broadway theme, before breaking into a polka rhythm. “Rise Up” completes the album and is probably the most epic of the tracks with constant buildups to the lyrics, “rise up,” using lots of wailing guitar. However, in the end it simply does not really deliver in being all that interesting.
While there are definitely some noteworthy moments on Hang, genres are clearly being crossed for Foxygen. They definitely took a risk here that, while absolutely admirable, is such a bold statement that one’s ears can only take so much of it in one sitting.