I hope you still have that bean bag chair lying around, because you’re going to want something squishy and low to the ground to sit on when you listen to this. Foxygen have managed to fit a lot of material into eighty-two minutes on their new LP, …And Star Power. The four-piece band hailing from California has been making experimental psychedelic music since they were in high school. Nearly ten years later, they have perfected their sound. They’re going to make sweet love to your ears and to your brain. …And Star Power is an anthology that will take you on a magical mystery ride through the seventies and back again.
Much like Abbey Road, …And Star Power is meant to be listened to in order. Do not mess it up by putting it on shuffle, you’ll regret it. It blends elements of punk, folk, experimental pop, and classic rock, and a little bit of a sixties girl group sound. These guys (probably) did a whole bunch of drugs while they were writing this, but I am definitely into it. It is a lot to drink in upon first listen. …And Star Power is highly conceptual and will probably cause some eyes to roll. This is not your mom’s folk rock. Think Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes meets The Velvet Underground. With so many elements coming together to make up this one cohesive record, it is amazing that it makes sense. But it does, and it’s excellent.
We kick off the album with the noise rock intro: “Star Power Airlines” This is sort of an unexpected way to start off, considering their most popular songs all have this similar sweet, sing-songy melody. Well, apparently someone pissed Foxygen off and it made them take on a whole new edge. And I am DIGGIN’ it. With cries of “Society, man!” it’s hard to miss mid-Vietnam War era vibes under the psychedelic noise. It’s angry, frustrated, and very cool. Similarly, “Cosmic Vibrations” starts off with that same LSD trip jumbled mess, then snaps into a very Velvet Underground-y ballad. Lou Reed would be proud.
While this is definitely an album for the “artsy” crowd, there are some good people-pleasing pop songs as well. My favorite is “How Can You Really,” which is exactly what I wanted out of this album. Fun, melodic piano with a bounce to it like a rubber ball. “How can you love someone that won’t leave?” California country meets The Monkees. This is the poppy single of the collection. Play this one for your mom. “Mattress Warehouse” is another catchy rhythmic pop song featuring some sick trumpet and organ.
Then we have the more melancholic ballads, the kind of song that makes you wanna look out a car window and cry a little. “Coulda Been My Love” is a dirge for a love gone sour. It’s got some beautiful piano and lovelorn, pleading lyrics:
“You can do what you want, you can do it all the time.”
Paired with the longing slide guitar cries in the background, it’s a perfect song to listen to while burning your ex’s possessions or hitch-hiking. “You & I” is an homage to Lou Reed and a young Keith Richards. Sweet “ooo”s and “aaah”s sing in the backing vocals, while the lead asks “Why doesn’t anybody help me? Why doesn’t anybody care?” Heavy, man. These are truly musicians, they are experts of their craft. These batshit complex melodies just blend together in what looks like a happy accident, but probably took months upon months of tireless production.
The “Star Power” series is the real stand out in the album. It is what I imagine would happen if the gang from “Scooby Doo” did a ton of acid and were set loose in CBGB in 1976. My personal favorite, “Star Power II: Power Nite,” is the kind of song you put on when you are planning on rolling around in a basement for a few hours. Fans of Iggy Pop and The Rolling Stones will appreciate this collection. The songs all fade into each other perfectly, which fits the overall concept of the album, but they definitely are meant to be played as one section. The final section of the series, “Star Power IV: Ooh Ooh” is an absolute dream. The twangy California Country guitar in the back is my favorite sound, bringing to mind images of driving through the desert at sundown.
Overall, Foxygen is bringing a lot to the table. If you have eighty-two minutes to spare, or if you are planning a road trip, I would 100% recommend adding …And Star Power to your “must listen” playlist. There is something on here for everyone in the car to enjoy. Follow them on Twitter for show dates. If my intuition is right, they’re going to be a hell of a band to see live.
…And Star Power is available now online or at your local record store.