If The Beatles classic concept album Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and Meatloaf’s pinnacle rock opera Bat Out of Hell made a love child, you’d have Foxygen’s fourth studio release Hang.
The groovy L.A. based duo comprising of Jonathan Rado and Sam France have once again reinvented their sound, but their style remains the same. Their 2013 release We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic propelled them into the limelight. It was fresh, spirited, frenetic and unlike anything else. Their follow-up …And Star Power (2014) was less impressive as a forgettable 24-song chronicle of a band at war with itself.
In Hang, Foxygen takes a different direction. Having assembled a 40 piece orchestra, Foxygen considers Hang to be their “first proper studio album.” Album opener “Follow the Leader” thrusts the record into full swing with bombastic horns, groovy keyboards, 1960’s bubblegum female backup vocals, and France’s gyrating shrieks.
France’s vocal diversity in Hang is prevalent as he effortlessly switches his inflections from Mick Jagger (“Rise Up”), David Bowie (“Mrs. Adams”), and Lou Reed (“Upon a Hill”).
Hang reaches it’s peak with album highlight “On Lankershim.” It is reminiscent of the 1970’s folky sounds of a.m. radio. The ballad “Trauma” is as smooth as it is carefully arranged symphonic pop. “Avalon” and “Upon a Hill” evoke imagery of the vaudeville camp you’d see on the Broadway stage.
Hang is grandiose, flamboyant, and ostentatious. But underneath the high concept, little substance is present. It’s all body and no soul. It’s an album I would pay good money to see in all of it’s cosmic glory live, but it’s not an album that I would come back to for regular listens.