REVIEW: Foxing – ‘The Albatross’


Artist: Foxing
Album: The Albatross
Genre: Emo

“When the tide rolled in, there was nothing left but an albatross hanging from my neck, and just as you could not contain the sea, you could not contain me,” sings Foxing vocalist Conor Murphy on the opening track of The Albatross. The line is an allusion to Samuel Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, where the bird symbolizes a curse and a burden. It’s fitting subject matter for an emo record, and the St. Louis, Missouri group makes the most of it on their Count Your Lucky Stars debut.

If there were any doubts about Foxing finding a place in modern emo music, those doubts will be gone by the midway point of “Inuit.” The song pulls from the same source material as The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, with quick, tight drumming, long dramatic build-ups, and well-placed gang vocals. Murphy’s voice is drenched in desperation, and he strikes a tough balance between theatric and over the top. It’s an approach that works even when the lyrics get overly simple (“I want to be loved”) or too focused on water metaphors as the album progresses.

The defining sound of emo these days is, of course, the “twinkly” guitar parts, and Foxing delivers there as well, with three or more lines twisting around each other on “The Medic” and “Den Mother.” They even show some mathy tendencies on “Bit By a Dead Bee Pt. 1,” and that song’s intense ending is almost certainly a highlight of Foxing’s live show. The only real missteps of The Albatross are the two interludes, which don’t stand on their own musically, nor do they seem to serve much purpose besides spacing out the record.

The sum total of those elements is a solid emo record, but not necessarily a special one. Foxing’s real strength is not in how well they play within the emo genre but in what they add to it. Plenty of bands will put a trumpet or a cello into a song, but very few approach the lush arrangement of “Bloodhound.” Strings and horns complement expansive piano chords, beautiful harmonies, and Murphy’s aching croon. There are no guitars or drums in the song, but the arrangement works so well that it’s a shame more of The Albatross doesn’t follow suit. The parts that do, however, are excellent. “Rory,” for instance, is built around a sparse, echoing piano part, and Murphy shows his impressive range as he chants, “I swear I’m a good man, so why don’t you love me back?” over the cello and stomping drums that sneak in around the halfway point. The result wouldn’t feel out of place on a stripped down Brand New record.

Somewhere out there is a kid who has never heard American Football. He hasn’t heard Mineral or Texas Is the Reason either. Maybe he hasn’t even heard The World Is a Beautiful Place, but by some chance event, he’ll hear Foxing, and The Albatross is going to crush him. That’s just the kind of record it is. In ten years, people will look back on this album and hold it in the same regard as its predecessors are held now. That’s not to say The Albatross is as good as The Power of Failing or Do You Know Who You Are?. It’s not, but that hardly matters. What matters with a record like this is where you were and what you were feeling the first time you heard it, and how it works its way into those emotions and those situations to the point where the music seems inseparable from them, and The Albatross is capable of doing just that.

Score: 8.5/10
Review written by Troy Sennett

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