Foxing – ‘Draw Down The Moon’

By Andy Joice

Here’s the trick to conquering the music industry – reinvention. The reason the likes of Bowie, Dylan and Madonna are so revered is because they’re able to reinvent themselves multiple times to become relevant again. Like a snake shedding its skin, it’s the change in either image or sound that allows them to continue pushing to a higher level and/or reflect the period of time.

While these are big comparisons to make, St Louis band Foxing are in the same category. With each album, they’ve pushed a more definitive sound, from debut ‘The Albatross’ being an excellent example of lo-fi emo chamber rock, third album ‘Nearer My God’ had a much more expansive, cinematic, twinkly feel.

While ‘Nearer My God’ has sinister undertones throughout, ‘Draw Down The Moon’ feels far more positive from the outset, with a broader synthpop feel largely replacing the long strokes of strings, a sound they touched on gently with ‘Heartbeats’. With Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull assisting with the production, it’s almost a guarantee that ‘Draw Down The Moon’ will be an ambitious, expressive album.

Opening with ‘737’, delicate guitars play out as frontperson Conor Murphy’s saccharin vocals depict loneliness, a sense of being overwhelmed and, ultimately, a sense of brotherhood with the listener, expressing both his inability to “do this alone” while offering loyalty. As the track reaches it’s climax, thick layers of distortion rise above the gentle acoustics, resulting in Murphy screaming lyrics relating to the rest of the album – beacons, moons, lightning, floors etc.

‘Go Down Together’ is the first real outlook at Foxing’s newer sound. An electropop masterpiece, it’s laced with precise synths, jangly guitars and an upbeat melody that sticks between the ears. An ode to Bonnie And Clyde, it’s a love song with the catchiest of choruses. Similarly, ‘Beacons’ is heavy with synth beats and an emotive heart to become a deftly poignant love song.

More jagged than the previously mentioned tracks, the title track and ‘Where The Lightning Strikes Twice’ dial the synths back slightly for a more cohesive ‘full band’ procession. With layers of thick rhythms and superglue melodies, these tracks are the perfect representation of ‘Draw Down The Moon’. Slightly chaotic but in the most positive of ways, you can’t help but feel your shoulders start to sway, your head starts to bob and your lips starting to mouth the lyrics.

While ‘Where The Lightning Strikes Twice’ has an almost Queen level of operatic flamboyance, ‘At Least We Found The Floor’ is entirely stripped back, really allowing Murphy and guitarist/vocalist Eric Hudson to explore harmonies, both vocally and with their dexterous guitar picking.

Likely the danciest on the record, ‘Bialystok’ has an infectious electronic beat that can’t help but slap a smile on your face, a catchy chorus and a touching metaphor. It’s one that’ll get the glowsticks waving for certain.

‘Cold Blooded’ and ‘If I Believed In Love’ reflect earlier Foxing, with steady rhythms from drummer Jon Hellwig and intricate melodies. More emotionally charged, they’re the tracks that would most easily fit elsewhere in their discography, as if a reminder that, for all the additions to their sound, they’re still masters of their craft.

Closing track, ‘Speak With The Dead’, swells with subtle horns, before reaching a huge crescendo of frantic drumming and Murphy’s voice rising above all. There’s a celestial fragility that resonates throughout the track, be it due to the slower tempo, Murphy’s delivery or the general composition, it’s a track that holds firmly to the heartstrings and refuses to let go. With an outro riff provided by Yoni Wolf of WHY?, it’ll leave it’s fingerprints all over your memories.

Foxing are a difficult band to categorise into one sound or genre, and this album is further proof of that. While all tracks are wildly different, the thread tying them together is ever-present; it’s an appreciation for their past and their future, culminating in an incredible present. ‘Draw Down The Moon’ shimmers with pearlescent optimism, despite all the pessimism laced throughout it. It’s a captivating listen, one that can be enjoyed repeatedly without ever tiring of it. Layered. Eclectic. Wonderful.

ANDY JOICE

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