Posts Tagged ‘We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic’

Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic (Jagjaguwar)

March 13, 2013

Q) What do you get if you consume records by Velvet Underground, Jefferson Airplane and Mercury Rev? 
A) Well apart from terrible indigestion you get ‘We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic.’ The second album from Californian duo Foxygen.

Foxygen’s level of Magpiery is almost overwhelming on first listen. Musically centred on the experimental rock sounds of early 60’s British Invasion & late 60’s San Francisco. The title is reminiscent of records by The Kinks and Pink Floyd which would be lavished large over 12 inch Vinyl LPs. Incidentally Foxygen is an appalling name for a band.

The opener begins the voyage tellingly from the darkness introducing optimism of alien races and non-scepticism leading in to “No Destruction.”

Which  begins with ‘Candy Says’ by VU with a Spandau Ballet (Bah, ba ba, bah bah) beat. The themes of emerging Americana are littered throughout “I’m sending you this photograph of me in my brand new car.” The ubiquitous pot references, “someone who smokes pot in the subway with me“, and “but the door of consciousness isn’t open anymore. Oh you think it’s over, oh, you think it’s over to me”, possibly lamenting the end of the flower power era.

” The pitfall for any modern Psych-band is sounding more like Scooby Doo on crack than the 13th Floor Elevators.”

“On Blue Mountain” introduces the overarching religious theme that creeps through this album “I was looking through the bible”, “Try and be what God wants you to be…”  It’s the most MGMT-like track on the album so far, the pitfall for any modern Psych-band is sounding more like Scooby Doo on crack than the 13th Floor Elevators. The ‘spot the song’ accolade in this track goes to Elvis Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds.’

Track 4 is the most representative song on the album. For fucks sake it’s called San Francisco with a Magic Roundabout refrain. This song channels the male/female duo espoused by popular bands of the hippy era. The vocal goes a little Syd Barrett at one point and references to “The new sensations” are reminiscent of early British Invasion, The Kinks et al.  And happily (depending on your outlook) it carries on the Christian theme with “Jesus was from Israel” and a bit of Hindu mythology with the introduction of a sacred Cow, perfectly summarises these fickle times and reflected by the lyrics “I left my love in San Francisco. That’s okay I was bored anyway.”

Kicking in to the saxophone thumping, desert drive interlude. “Bowling Trophies” feels like it’s been ripped straight out of Las Vegas desert road-trip film (Wild at Heart or Fear in Loathing in Las Vegas) a sentiment alluded to later “I’ve got a movie playing in my mind…”

The album listening journey (oh no) plays like a fabled acid trip, the album goes up a hill, interspersed with jazz interludes and psych freak outs. The titular track has everything from Mick Jagger aping vocals to staccato 13th Floor Elevators freak outs right across the board.

Despite all its obvious faults, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, is actually a pretty enjoyable listen. I gather it’s what others get from modern day throwbacks like Tame Impala, who I’ve never been able to stick. Maybe the Australians over-reliance on Merseybeat era Beatles feels awkwardly hollow, much in the same way as an actor adopting a poor imitation Scouse accent causes me immediate anger and pain. Maybe in these economically rife times we need the nostalgia of times when faux-spirituality, reckless drug-taking and free love were de rigueur and no one was arsed if it made any sense.  I mean try listening to “Oh Yeah” and not being happy, the beat is practically begging for a hip hop remix.