Foxygen's 'Star Power' a black hole of wretched excess
As both a devoted fan—heck, a scholar—of psychedelic-rock experimentation and a defender of the merits of Foxygen’s 2013 breakthrough pop-pastiche We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace And Magic—even after the group proved to be far from stellar onstage—the third album from California studio wizards Jonathan Rado, Sam France, and collaborators comes as a major disappointment.
In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was so eager to hear the next release by a band that turned out to suck this royally.
A bloated, sloppy, sprawling, 82-minute, way-too-impressed-with-itself 24-track double album, ... And Star Power veers far from the beautiful, orchestrated psychedelic pop of the last album, overshooting psychedelic noise to arrive at psychedelic mess. Sorry, kids, but there is such a thing as taking too many drugs; what the Romantics called “the systematic derangement of the senses” in pursuit of spiritual and musical transcendence is one thing, but getting so deranged that you can no longer tell the difference between otherworldly studio experimentation and the aural equivalent of burping, farting, and laughing at your own clever self for doing so is another matter.
This time, rather than drawing inspiration from Love, the Northern California bands, and the British groups of the initial psychedelic explosion, Rado and France seem to aim for disorienting sound collages like the Beatles’ “Revolution 9” or the attention-deficit genre-hopping of the Mothers of Invention, but they don’t even match the amateurish chaos of the Zappa-helmed GTOs. What makes this muddle more infuriating are the occasional glimpses of the old pop genius: “How Can You Really” or segments of the four-part “Star Power” suite. But these are far outnumbered by sheer clatter (“Star Power Airlines,” “666,” “Wally’s Farm,” “Hot Summer”), sub-Syd Barrett navel-gazing (“You & I,” “I Don’t Have Anything/The Gate”), and the many attempts to imitate the unfocused confusion of Brian Wilson’s aborted Smile album.
Foxygen should have just said no to the excessive impulses that created this double disc. Thankfully, you can say no to wasting your time with it.
Foxygen, ... And Star Power (Jagjaguwar)
Rating on the four-star scale: .5 stars.