Review/Listen: Foxygen – Take The Kids Off Broadway (EP)

From the first note, Foxygen‘s latest EP Take The Kids Off Broadway is an unabashed tribute to the ghosts of musicians past. On their first release for Jagjaguwar since being signed in May, the New York/Washington-based duo call up musical history as though by magic, stirring a bewitching mixture of glam and rock and roll, while adding a surprising modern twist. Each track on the 7 song EP whirls through a musical kaleidoscope, not content to stick to a simple pop song narrative.  The opener “Abandon My Toys” starts almost as a reworking of the Jagger/Richards classic “As Tears Go By,” and ends with a cacophony of noise that wouldn’t be out of place on “A Day In The Life.”  On “Waitin 4 U” lead singer Sam France moves eerily like Jagger circa “Wild Horses” and “Angie.”

“Teenage Alien Blues” and “Why Did I Get Married” sound as though they were created by the conjoined twin love-child of Marc Bolan and David Bowie, strumming away with two heads and four arms in a dank New York bedroom, inhaling glitter.  The third track, “Take The Kids off Broadway,” is a particular treat, almost a clanging bastardization of every ’50s piano schlock song.

Amidst this glorious smörgåsbord of crashing sound and gyrating hips, “Make It Known” is the EP’s obvious standout. Here Foxygen are self-assured, and lead singer Sam France is given more of an opportunity to sing (and even growl!),  rather than croon in the manner of his idols. It is undeniably catchy and sexy, and I defy anyone to listen to this and not hear its echoes richocheting in your brain hours later.

Foxygen‘s owes a lot of their sound to their influences, and Take The Kids Off Broadway is suffused with glimpses of New York Dolls, T-Rex, Lou Reed, Television and countless others. France’s vocals have been described to me as “exactly like Stephen Malkmus doing Tom Verlaine doing Jagger, every now and then slipping into Nick Cave,” an apt summation of how the twosome have woven the music they clearly so love into a brand new package.

This is my only criticism of Take The Kids Off Broadway: as a new EP from a new band, it is a delight on steroids, pulling you every which way with its quirky, fun inventiveness, but listening to it with even a vague appreciation of the artists name-dropped above however, it can all seem rather derivative. Why listen to a record that sounds like “Exile on Main Street” or “Transformer” when you can put on the real thing?

Nevertheless, there are seemingly few artists today (such as MGMT, and perhaps Ariel Pinkto whom they will undoubtedly be compared) making music like Foxygen, and so this EP is definitely refreshing. Foxygen are clearly destined for big things, and Take The Kids Off Broadway will no doubt find a home on the turntables and iPods of those who yearn for the good old days of glam and rock and roll, as well as those people who just want something to dance to.

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