Foxing’s third album, ‘Nearer My God’, has been three years in the making. It will be released ahead of a UK tour with Pianos Become the Teeth and an eagerly anticipated performance at this year’s ArcTanGent Festival. Produced by Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie) and Foxing’s own Eric Hudson, with help from Joe Reinhart, the album has been ranked as one of the most exciting this year by the math- and post-rock community but has it been worth the wait?
The opener ‘Grand Paradise’ certainly suggests so. This song has a piano and electronic-led introduction that makes way for dirty guitars, a big bass sound and Conor Murphy’s evocative falsetto stating ‘I can be romantic’. Following this is the Mewithoutyou-esque ‘Slapstick’, (named after the Kurt Vonnegut novel of the same name) with its unsettling stop-start feel, odd time signatures and lyrics about how: ‘There’s no more sun and no more light shines through’. There’s another change in direction into danceable new wave territory on ‘Lich Prince’. This is a self-depreciating piece with a big build-up in the style of Phoenix and ruthlessly honest lyrics: ‘Been thinking of new ways to fuck with old friends’.
The title track, ‘Nearer My God’, is as accessible as Foxing will get and it the kind of track you’d imagine soundtracking indie discos for years to come. With deep synths and a danceable hooks, it finds Murphy first pleading ‘Does anybody want me at all?’ before subtly changing the lyrics in the second half of the track to ‘Do you want me at all?’, making it so much more personal and powerful. ‘Five Cups’ is a 9-minute opus with a repeated proclamation of ‘I want to drown with my eyes closed’. There’s a big change in tempo halfway through as thunderous drums and urgent guitars join and the track evolves into a sprawling beast full of epic twists and turns. ‘Heartbeats’ has a classical, almost Disney-esque opening before thumping bass, electronic drumbeats and Radiohead noises join the fray and Murphy sings ‘You are not enough so stop playing.
There’s also refreshing experimentation throughout ‘Trapped in Dillard’s’, a song that comes off as a strange but stunning hybrid of Everything Everything, M83 and Foals. ‘Bastardizer’ is full of twinkle and appears to have bagpipes as it veers into a kind of anthemic indie sing-along. The closing ‘Lambert’ recalls The National before veering into more angular rock territory. It’s a fitting end to an expansive and eye-opening album by a band at the top of their game.