The Foxery’s “Life Is Still Beautiful”
Influences can get the best of us, or make us at our best, depending on things like vulnerability and willingness. Either they can get us smoking too much pot all the time, or get us living life to the fullest. Mothers and fathers know a thing or two about this. Choose your friends wisely, right? […]Hannah Cook
out of 10
Life Is Still Beautiful
December 9, 2011
Influences can get the best of us, or make us at our best, depending on things like vulnerability and willingness. Either they can get us smoking too much pot all the time, or get us living life to the fullest. Mothers and fathers know a thing or two about this. Choose your friends wisely, right?
In Louiseville natives The Foxery’s case, with their sophomore release Life is Still Beautiful, it’s a little bit of both. The balance of vulnerability and autonomy is tilted slightly to the former. They aren’t really surprising anyone listing “Manchester Orchestra, Anathallo, All Get Out, God, life” as their influences on Facebook. And, religious beliefs aside, those are perfectly commendable influences. It’s just the execution of such inspirations that falls short at points on this album.
Key words: “at points,” because, as a whole, The Foxery really do prove themselves as a capable band.
This album is certainly dynamic, pertaining to sounds both my current self and my 14-year-old self do and did truly enjoy. I can’t decide if the nostalgia is something I like, but the indecisiveness leads me to believe that it’s not. The good news is is that no song is similar the whole way through.
Take “Carried Away,” for example, which starts off with an unsettling harmony, with two voices of opposite pitches wining, for lack of a better word. But once the glimmering guitars and heavy drumming kick in, the song takes a turn for the better, with guitar work very similar to a Manchester Orchestra-O’Brother rendition. In the final moments of the song, it’s difficult not to imagine Andy Hull as vocalist Calvin Fackler softly sings, oddly but crisply pronouncing syllables in his sad words. Though blatantly, the aforementioned band’s influence shines through here.
Fackler’s voice is beautiful in its own right, but there are moments on the album where it misses the boat, or atleast my boat.
“Healing Time” is a tune that’s very clearly personal and touching. And while raw emotion is usually a good thing, Fackler’s voice combined with the repetitive, lifeless guitar riff makes it a little over-dramaticly morose. A song of similar nature is “O is for Ohio” (one I wish I could relate more to). In the beginning, Fackler’s vocals are very forced, his tongue vigorously pushing out each word. Luckily, it builds up with progressive and soothing layers. The song ends the same way it begins, but the newly-added reverb to Fackler’s vocals closes the curtains solidly.
It’s important to remember, despite all that, that golden moments on Life is Still Beautiful are not few and far between. For instance, “The Widower” possesses a lovely simplicity, both lyrically and musically. Fackler’s voice, singing of his personal experience with faith, floats over a simple guitar riff and sparse drumming. Granted, the song picks up and there’s about a minute of slightly winey harmonizing again. But after the full band shouts a rambunctious “Away!” the song breaks down with a shimmery power similar, again, to O’brother.
The final track on the album, “Giver ‘er Hell Kid,” concludes everything nearly perfectly. The drumming is clever and Fackler’s voice sounds more authentic than it ever has. Nothing is forced or over-dramatic. The only down point is that the lyrics are a little desperate, but the nature in which they’re sung makes them seem more stripped down than anything. The track ends with something like a drum circle and full-band shout along–the most joy I felt on the album.
The Foxery let their influences get the best of them, showing a little too much of other bands more than themselves every now and then. And though not every moment will sit will with the listener, it’s clear as day how much pure enjoyment the band gets out of playing music. Whether a creative outlet, an emotional outlet, or whichever, the passion on Life is Still Beautiful never burns out.
[CORRECTION 02/04/12: Our reviewer was accidentally given a couple tracks from The Foxery’s early records along with their latest release. Her references to those have been redacted from the above review. We apologize for the mistake.]