Album Review: Foxing – Nearer My God

Foxing’s Nearer My God is the dark, epic and beautiful record you need in your life in 2018. 

On 10 August, St Louis outfit Foxing released their latest record Nearer My God. Having taken three years to complete, the record is probably one of the best things you’ll hear in 2018.

Produced in St. Louis and Montreal by Walla and Hudson, with additional help from Joe Reinhart (Hop Along, Modern Baseball), the record is a post-apocalyptic melodrama about control in a world that really, really feels like it’s falling apart. The band take this theme and combine elements of anthemic indie rock, avant-garde R&B and classical to create some of their most original and strongest material yet.

If the album title makes you feel something dark and eerie, almost doomsday like, it’s because that’s entirely intentional. “Nearer My God to Thee” has always been a phrase synonymous with last words or final moments. CNN’s Ted Turner actually created a Doomsday Video during the cold war so that CNN would be the last thing people watched before the world ends, the video’s soundtrack? Th traditional Christian hymn that is “Nearer My God To Thee”. It’s also said to have been the last thing played by the band on the Titanic as it sank.

Feeling gloomy yet? Good.

About half way through opening track Grand Paradise, Conor Murphy tells about the “gates of heaven” as the drums kick in. It’s an epic drop in a song that doesn’t shy away from showing its hip-hop influences. Its infectious and strange mood is one that sets you up for what the rest of the record has to offer.

Tracks like Linch Prince and Gameshark are some of the most dramatic tunes on the record, and at the same time probably the ones with the most electronic influence.

Then up comes title track and recent single Nearer My God. Five different versions of the track have been recorded – the first, and the one that appears on the album, spotlights the classic delicate-to-desperate delivery fans have come to expect from vocalist Conor Murphy; an aching tale of an artist’s most honest vulnerability. The four that follow express the same sentiment in an equally moving manor, but they’re performed in Spanish, French, German, and Japanese.

“The language idea started as a “wouldn’t it be cool” thing that just kept going. The whole point was to put in a fraction of the effort that most international artists put it. The goal was to show respect and appreciation. Each step was difficult because we wanted to get it as right as possible and my only knowledge outside of English is some high school French. Each of the four foreign languages had its own set of difficulties but, after working with 70ish translators and friends for a few months, we’ve got one song in five tongues.” Conor explains.

Five Cups is a nine minute artistic masterpiece in which Murphy extensively mourns loss. The track feels heavy and yet light all at the same time and that’s where the beauty of Foxing lies. The following Heartbeats kicks off almost like the intro to a cheesy chick-flick scene with the strings setting the mood. It quickly brings in the beats and electronic influences, though.

And just when you think you have this album figured out, Foxing take the very infectious and perfectly named Bastardizer and add a dash of bagpipes to it. Because why not?! Closer Lambert brings the record full circle after twelve tracks and an emotional roller-coaster.

You can call Foxing emo, or indie, or whatever you please because fact is with Nearer My God, the band cross genres like it’s nobody’s business and have in return created a soulful, beautiful record. 

 

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