Listening to Foxygen can be a confusing experience. Over two sprawling albums and an EP Sam France and Jonathon Rado appropriated just about every trope in their cooler-than-thou record collection; Memphis Soul, 60s era Stones, Merseybeat, and shades of Bowie & Reed were all put to use. Whether they figured that fans wouldn’t be aware of the provenance of their inspiration, or just didn’t care about their copy paste approach, seemed like a moot point; they were happily camped out in retro-rock land, and to hell with the naysayers.
New album Hang at least makes a sharp left turn, although the music they explore here – big band swing and orchestral pop – is equally as derivative. Recorded to tape with a full, 40-piece symphony orchestra, it certainly sounds lush, with plenty of brass and baroque flourishes. They also brought in Matthew E. White, of Spacebomb records fame, and you can hear his easy charm and glossy loveliness at work in the arrangements. Sadly, none of this is enough to mask the tired clichés employed throughout; rinky dink pianos, cheesy sax solos, and songs – particularly ‘Avalon’ and ‘Upon A Hill’ – that tip over into pure cabaret, vaudeville, and musical theatre. It all adds up to the feeling that Foxgen’s main talent is repurposing the past, and that they lack an original voice of their own.