Foxy Shazam is back, in their entire Queen-esque camp splendor. More flamboyantly than before with even more catchy hooks, Foxy is going to seduce your ears and make you get down. The band’s third effort and major label debut, Foxy Shazam, has everything that might have enticed fans of their earlier work but is far more accessible in that it lacks some heavier elements of their last two records. Whether that is a good thing or not, I’ll let you decide for yourself.
Foxy Shazam opens with a larger-than-life piece, aptly titled “Bomb’s Away”. It sets the tone for the rest of the album nicely. “Bombs Away” tells the listener what to expect in terms of style, but by no means indicates a boring album. What starts with a hip-hop like rhythm composed of recorded dog barks escalates into a grandiose and melodic anthem. The song also showcases the talents of almost every member of the band. Between Loren Turner’s harmonizing guitar lines, Eric Nally’s soaring vocals, horn player Alex Nauth’s powerful blowing, and pianist Sky White’s fleet fingers, the song is a juggernaut of musicianship. “Wanna-Be Angel” is catchy, and is more likely than not going to be chosen as a single, but it is somewhat repetitive. However, it does a good job of encompassing the album’s “Fuck you, I’ll do what I want” message quite well.
The practically pop-punk intro to “Count Me Out” is off-putting at first, but the song morphs into a pop-funk gem in the verse, only to revisit that venture into pop-punk during the chorus. The contrast makes it one of the best songs on the album. Foxy Shazam lets up and gives the listener a brief break with the slow piano lines in “Bye Bye Symphony”, but they too swell to driving choruses and match the mood of the album. Sky White’s playing makes the song, which contains his most memorable performance on the record. “Unstoppable” is anthemic and enjoyable, but tries too hard to be a Queen song, unfortunately. Still, it displays the band’s immense talent, so it shouldn’t be overlooked. Perhaps the most memorable track, “Oh Lord” is single material, but has far more relevance to the album as a whole, and it is simply way catchier than “Wanna-Be Angel”, or any other song on Foxy Shazam. “Oh Lord” is the sort of song that you can’t help but sing out loud.
As far as sheer experimentation goes, “Connect” is particularly ear-catching. As the funkiest song on the album, “Connect” utilizes what sounds like a gospel choir backing Nally in the chorus. Another favorite, “The Only Way to My Heart” is accentuated by Nauth’s jazzy horn playing. As a song, it is the closest in style to Introducing, with its dark tone and dissonance towards the end of the song. Foxy Shazam’s bassist, Daisy, uses a style of bass-playing, in these song in particular, that contrasts the band’s sound overall. His lines are less flashy, but his playing is tight and he accentuates the songs where they need to be accentuated. When the occasional deviation from that method does occur with a funky bass lick, it is all the more appealing.
I’m sure these guys are sick of the Queen comparisons (or maybe that’s what they’re shooting for), but it’s undeniable – Eric Nally channels good ‘ol Freddie Mercury. Whether it’s his operatic voice and impressive range or his fashion (track jackets and a tight ‘stache, anyone?), Eric is a dead-ringer for Freddie. Perhaps that’s what makes Foxy Shazam such a good album. I don’t think many would accuse Foxy Shazam of having a completely original sound, especially on their latest effort, but as a stand-alone record, Foxy Shazam matches the bands live shows in fun, which is really saying something.
From a purely musical standpoint, stylistic changes aside, Foxy Shazam is far superior to its forerunner Introducing. Some might condemn Foxy’s foray into more “commercially friendly” territory, especially considering the strong hardcore influences on Introducing, but the band’s newest effort is not only more dynamically interesting, but far catchier and loads more fun. Foxy Shazam will alienate fans of the band’s older material. Foxy Shazam will disappoint those hoping to mosh to some breakdowns. Foxy Shazam will make you dance, and I’ll be damned if that isn’t a good thing.