Tame Impala. Bob Dylan. Sgt. Pepper’s. The Velvet Underground. Odessey and Oracle. David Bowie. Syd Barrett.
Yes, get all of your comparisons out of the way. This album sounds like old rock & roll, and it’s great.
We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic is the full title of this release, Foxygen’s sophomore LP. The band’s name sounded a bit familiar, but I wasn’t sure if I had listened to them before. I still have yet to give their debut a spin, but rest assured, I downloaded it following my first listen to We Are the 21st Century….
Now I feel there are two things that can happen when an artist that isn’t particularly established gets a Best New Music nod from Pitchfork. It’s either well-founded praise, or the album is derivative trash. Either way, it’s going to make some waves, but luckily this falls into the former category.
The album starts a little slow. Frankly, each of the shorter tracks is a bit of a throwaway. Take it from the aforementioned Tame Impala, who have spearheaded this revival of psychedelic pop/rock (this separate movement seems to harken back to its roots more, but neo-psychedelia has been around for years because of the likes of Animal Collective and The Flaming Lips). The songs on last year’s fantastic Lonerism tended more towards 5 minutes, so maybe this type of music just needs to breathe a bit more.
But then we jump into “No Destruction”, which features a chorus that reminds me a lot of the ones utilized by Wire. I think it’s one of the better tracks on the album. It’s followed by “On Blue Mountain”, with vocals reminiscent of Mick Jagger and a little bit of a Kinks influence to the song on the whole. If this sounds appetizing, please stop reading and grab the album now. But it gets better from there, as we move to “San Francisco”, the psych pop centerpiece of We Are the 21st Century…. I’ve seen more than one reviewer dare its reader not to sing along to the track.
The final 3 songs on the album all are nice in their own ways, and certainly memorable. It’s a fun album. It’s not going to set the world on fire with originality, but it’s a precious little homage to the 60’s and 70’s, and I hope we’ll continue to hear albums like it.