Review: Foxygen – We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic

The De Mello Rating: 4 Stars

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There’s a very messy use of the words genius and brilliant in today’s modern lexicon and I’ll admit I’m somewhat guilty of that myself. Brilliant, at least, can be excused as being a British slang word for awesome or cool or boss or whatever, but genius is genius. Everyone is a genius now, every idea is genius and as far back as a decade ago when the internet ruined the English language for everyone, The Royal Tenenbaums had a quote that I’ve tried to incorporate through my writing, but up until recently have failed miserably at:

Royal: [about Raleigh] You’re two-timing him with that bloodsucker Eli Cash. Now, that’s just not right, dammit. You used to be a genius. 
Margot: No, I didn’t. 
Royal: Anyway, that’s what they used to say.

They say a lot of things, don’t they? Genius is a word that is almost angelic and should only be used in such instances as it is warranted. Bob Dylan was a genius, Albert Einstein was a genius, John Lennon was a genius and Lou Reed was almost a genius. Dylan was a genius writer. Einstein is perhaps the smartest man of all time, his genius is unquestionable. Lennon a genius musician with a sarcastic wit that made him reviled by many, but didn’t diminish his linguistic acumen even after he left the Beatles.

Lou Reed, however, was a different kind of genius, he was considered a genius through the use of psychotropic drugs that turned his words into imagery that was so profound that it encouraged others to imbibe just to experience his songs more fully. Does that make him a genius or a drug addict? Does it make Jim Morrison a genius? Kurt Cobain? I think this is where we get hung up on definitions. I’m not going to quote the definition of genius here, because I find that to be a hokey convention of shitty writing, but I will say that I do not find Lou Reed to be anything more than a very good writer who used a lot of drugs and did a great job of describing what it was like to trip out.

Foxygen, are in that same vein, but are not quite genius yet. Their new album, We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic is quite good and has that Velvet Underground, Lou Reed feel to it. Very melodic, spacey and druggie feeling. Last time I saw Foxygen in San Francisco lead singer, Sam France yelled, “I think I’m on mescaline.” So taking him at his word I have to assume that’s how he lives his life and it fits with the wonderful music presented on this album. A ten song album that ebbs and flows in a mystical way and really shows a lot of growth from last year’s EP Take the Kids Off Broadway.

The songs do run a bit on the long side with many clocking in at over four minutes and some over five. That shouldn’t detract you from listening as they don’t meander in a thoughtless way. Of course, the ode to this city with the song entitled “San Francisco” is a wonderful song and not just because I live here, but because it’s cleverly crafted and well written. The video is below check it out for yourself. France is finding his voice and style and I think it is serving him quite well. With this album I get the impression that with a few more years under his belt he will be on the road to being able to deny he’s the genius that everyone around him says he is, for modesty’s sake.

We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic will be out Tuesday, January 22nd here.

Tour Dates

02/02/13 Paris, France – Point Ephemere
02/04/13 London, UK – The Lexington BUY TICKETS
02/05/13 Brussels, Belgium – Botanique/Witloofbar
02/06/13 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Bitterzoet
02/07/13 Hamburg, Germany – Molotow
02/08/13 Berlin, Germany – Karrera Klub Party at Rosis
02/09/13 Copenhagen, Denmark – Frost – Bremen Theatre Lobby
02/13/13 San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire BUY TICKETS
02/15/13 Los Angeles, CA – Echoplex w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
02/16/13 Las Vegas, NV – Beauty Bar w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
02/18/13 El Paso, TX – The Lowbrow Palace w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
02/19/13 San Antonio, TX – The Korova w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
02/20/13 Austin, TX – The Mohawk w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
02/21/13 Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
02/22/13 New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jack’s w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
02/23/13 Atlanta, GA – 529 w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
02/27/13 Washington, DC – Rock & Roll Hotel w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire BUY TICKETS
02/28/13 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire BUY TICKETS
03/01/13 Philadelphia, PA – First Unitarian Church w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
03/02/13 Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
03/03/13 Montreal, QC – Il Motore w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
03/04/13 Toronto, ON – Wrong Bar w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
03/06/13 Holland, MI – Knickerbocker Theater at Hope College w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
03/07/13 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
03/08/13 Bloomington, IN – Bluebird Nightclub w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
03/09/13 St. Louis, MO – Firebird w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
03/11/13 Norman, OK – Opolis w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
03/12/13 Dallas, TX – Club Dada w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
03/18/13 Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
03/19/13 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
03/22/13 Seattle, WA – The Crocodile w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Wampire
03/23/13 Vancouver, BC – The Media Club w/ Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Wampire, & Blessed Feathers

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