By DAN MACINTOSH
“Face The Facts,” one of the singles released off duo Foxygen’s Seeing Other People album, includes some strikingly inventive lyrical lines, which makes it one of this quirky new album’s better cuts.
Early in the song, they sing: “I wanna live in the times/When they put cocaine in Coca-Cola.” Uh, okay. The song is not a pro blow song, though, but – perhaps – just a little nostalgic. Its overall meaning is more about coming to terms with the end of a romantic relationship.
Facts we learn to face include how this ex-lover is never going to be a famous rock ‘n’ roller, while the protagonist will never be black or dance like James Brown. Facts must be faced, after all.
One of the album’s strangest tracks is “The Thing Is,” which begins sonically like a homage to Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart.” It features one of those big, faux-wall-of-sound arrangements, including upfront acoustic piano. However, lyrics like: “I’m a winner/Buy me chicken dinner” do not exactly match up with The Boss’s best workingman’s poetry. The song also incorporates some wonky synthesizer, which is not an instrument often found on E Street Band recordings.
Foxygen can be snarky and do snarkiness well. However, the act is also capable of true sincerity. “Flag At Half-Mast” sounds like personal mourning. It could speak for all of us, though. What with all the mass killings, which have become all too common, we’re all flying our heart flags at half-mast much of the time. Sam France sings it sincerely, with a voice much like Mick Jagger’s on some of the Rolling Stones more vulnerable songs. The song fades out, unusually, with an instrumental bed seemingly inspired by the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds era.
It’s par for the course, though, because Seeing Other People is filled with unusual juxtapositions. Another memorable track is “Livin’ A Lie,” which sounds like a break-up song, whether romantic or the end of a friendship. Whatever the case, France sure is angry. “You even stole my fuckin’ clothes” he spits out at one point.
The album closes with the appropriately named “The Conclusion.” This one is a stripped-down funk track, with an underlying Sly Stone weariness. It features a stream of consciousness lyrics, with the repeated line, “Maybe we should just be friends.” It’s a song easily linked with the album’s title cut, which sounds like a ’70s yacht rock sentiment, where romantic commitments are fluid, at best.
Foxygen’s Seeing Other People is not a polished effort. One gets the sense much of this music was created in the studio. Many tracks are infused with a ramshackle spontaneity. Although not a smooth and consistent statement, Seeing Other People is never less than completely transparent and honest, which makes it well worth our attention. With art like this, these guys can see whomever they damn well please.