Friday, October 21, 2011

The Foxes – Last of Many

There are two ways of looking at this album. On the one hand you can listen to it purely on its merits as a collection of songs. On the other (and this relies on knowing a little something about the band itself) it’s two fingers to the ‘traditional’ music biz, general apathy, the ups and downs of life and giving up on your dreams. Either way, it deserves your ears. I first saw The Foxes live a few years back (2007 I, tempus fugit). An instantly likeable bunch they already had a good half dozen classic sounding tunes, taking in influences from a range of truly great Brit bands, everyone from The Kinks to The Small Faces, XTC to Joe Jackson and, more recently Noel Gallagher' Flying Birds.

Packing in the security of their day jobs they boldly set off to play America on a shoestring and a prayer, then came back to do the same across the UK, putting in the hours as a covers band (weddings, bar mitzvahs, 100th birthdays parties etc) to pay the bills. Okay, so perhaps they’re not the first band to take such a risk but the fact that they’ve stuck with it, for years now, well, that’s something I genuinely admire. And, judging by their grin inducing, foot tapping, head nodding debut album it’s all been worth it.

From the early Beatles on speed wig out of Suzy all the way through to the album’s climax, the brooding meltdown of Sorry To Leave You the album’s jammed full of one classic sounding track after another. There’s something really accessible about it all. Listen to Sweet Little Wonder for instance. It’s what your granddad would call “proper songs with proper lyrics”. That’s not a criticism by the way, putting out an album that’s going to appeal to several generations of music lovers is a shrewd move (no doubt honed by their alter egos as a covers band). Lyrically much of the album seems to be inspired by the life and times of lead Fox Nigel, boredom, poverty, regret, bitterness, love/hate, a bit more bitterness (I do love a bit of bitterness) ...all human emotion’s on offer here folks, often wrapped up with a dash of wry wit. Musically it’s pure British pop gold, from the Oasis meets George Harrison of the aforementioned Sweet Little Wonder to the spiky Joe Jackson new wave era feel of Send Me Nothing.

Perhaps in the current climate (folk bands, female singer songwriters, copycat rappers and...good grief...Dappy) this album’s a little out of step. Who cares? The band’s done what they want, the way they wanted and in an age where far too many are willing to do whatever it takes to ‘make it’ (is it me or has the X Factor descended...tough, I new lows recently?) that’s a really, really refreshing thing. Last of Many? For a whole bunch of reasons I really hope it’s not...

Last Of Many is out on The Foxes own label (naturally), Room 10, on 5th December.

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