By: Ethan Bloomfield, Staff Writer
[Grand Paradise; 2021]
Key tracks: “737”, “Speak With The Dead”
The indie-rock scene had a rich month. Everyone from The Academic to Deafhaven have dropped new music with no signs of slowing down industry-wide. Within this slew of new albums, St. Louis group Foxing unveiled their latest LP, Draw Down the Moon, the first record released on their own label, Grand Paradise. For all its showmanship, Draw Down the Moon is a middling record, rife with strange choices and lackluster performances, although a few standouts are still present in the tracklist.
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The first track, “737”, is a familiar and enticing emo cut, building up from a whisper and a plucky acoustic guitar to a moody screamfest. It’s a great opening track and a good way to introduce the record––or it would be if the rest of the album took any of the Hotelier-like emo influences to heart. Instead, the next track “Go Down Together”, is a piece of slick and sterile indie-pop, with nothing but a simple 4/4 beat serving as an interlude “connecting” the tracks. The switch feels… confusing.
The title track, “Draw Down the Moon”, reminds me more of a Half Alive track than a band posturing that it has bite. The synth and booming drums on tracks like “Where the Lightning Strikes Twice” would feel at home on an Imagine Dragons record rather than something like this. The instrumentals, if confusing, are consistent for the band––2018’s Nearer My God features a lot of the same style of backing track. However, songs like “Lich Prince” and “Gameshark” featured more interesting instrumentals, tighter, more visceral production and much improved hooks. The songs are sexier and feel more organic, a strange divergence in quality and level of enthusiasm between the two records.
Tracks such as “Cold Blooded” feel manufactured and substanceless. The vocals feel muddy and the guitars and drum hits feel muted in response. It’s not very memorable, but at least leads the album into its closing leg. The opening of “If I Believed In Love” is alien in comparison to any track on the record, and could be very interesting but instead builds to the same blown-out Imagine Dragons sound as the last few tracks.
The closing number, “Speak With The Dead”, seems to promise the same sort of build-up and emotional high as the opener, and it delivers. It is big, loud and emotionally compelling. The WHY? feature on the song breathes life into the vocals and pops against the greyed out and homogeneous middle third of the record. It is a competent and effective closer, especially with the musical switch in the last half of the song providing another layer of freshness.
This album feels like a compliment sandwich: a good opener, several uninteresting and worn out tracks and a good closer to bookend it all. All in all, Draw Down The Moon is a zero-sum game, not offering any valuable musical insight in the forty-minute runtime. A good track or two is better than none, but not enough to ultimately win anyone to your side. Maybe next time, Foxing.