Lots of intriguing elements are at work on this new Foxygen effort out on Bloomington, Indiana’s Jagjaguwar Records and it’s really overwhelming, as a whole, how much they throw at you.
One thing, just to tip things off, that jumps out at me right away is that the vocalist Sam France WANTS to be black, and dance like James Brown. No, really, he told you, in “Face the Facts”: “I gotta face the facts / I’m never gonna dance like James Brown / I’m never gonna be black / And I’m never gonna get you back”. The music itself is FUNKY, more or less coming pretty close in style to the new Cage the Elephant material (which I likewise enjoy), and vocalist Sam France, though singing without what I’d describe as a wealth of emotion, does have a natural, easy and projective voice and sounds like he was born to be a rock and roll singer, indeed, so you can say that about it.
At other spots, like the excellent standout lead single and album opener “Work,” he gets across his cocksure, weary-sounding misanthropy with a compelling flair, and sort of charming emotional vacancy you might find in the singer of the band aptly named No Age. “I’m doin’ all the work / If you’ve got something to say then say it”, he barks over an infectiously funky chorus, sounding like someone who’s come to a taut and also artistic realization about both humanity at large and himself. “Mona” is more brisk, slap-happy pop before we come to the title track. And you know, I’m really not too sure what to make of this song! It’s definitely quite bizarre, what with the observation that “People might come and go / People might get stuck on the highway / But we’re seeing other people all the time”, which I guess, in thematic stature in regards to the album as a whole of course, sort of plays as a spoof on the shallowness of the dating phrase “seeing other people,” sort of like to say it implies that the only purpose of actually visually “seeing” another person in life is to discern if you want to copulate with them. The song itself, in quality album sequencing following two higher-energy selections, slows things down a bit, and broadens the influences from just James Brown and KC & the Sunshine Band to classic rock like Neil Young, as well as reminding me of the Black Crowes’ song “Seeing Things,” in both the manner of vocalizing as well as right down to of course utters. Of course this is listenable music, nobody would deny that: the primary snag with Seeing Other People will undoubtedly be its jadedness with the world, and France’s tendency to try to be funny when he can’t manufacture any true emotions to convey. Granted, he generally is fairly funny, so we should typically forgive him for this malady.