Foxygen – ‘…And Star Power’

Hints of brilliance are lost amid the LA dreamers' epic 24-song meltdown

Drugs. Temper tantrums. Onstage meltdowns. Foxygen’s flame has seemed in danger of sputtering out. After a promising second album in 2013’s ‘We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic’, the LA psych troupe – led by ’60s-obsessed high school friends Jonathan Rado and Sam France – hit rock bottom last July, when France’s girlfriend, then in the group, lashed out at Rado for his alleged shitty treatment of her boyfriend. Four days after their public denial of split rumours, France, who’s fond of bashing himself in the head while singing, broke his leg onstage, resulting in many cancelled dates.

What did Foxygen do next? Well, they wrote a 24-song, 82-minute opus that makes MGMT’s infamously impenetrable second album ‘Congratualtions’ sound like a paragon of all-killer-no-filler professionalism. Obviously. Sloppy and schizophrenic, ‘…And Star Power’ is the sound of record-collection rock having a nervous breakdown.

It’s a shame, because for about 20 minutes it splits the difference between inspired and indulgent, suggesting Foxygen might have it in them to make a great double album. Much of it has a ball channelling ’70s soft-rockers like Todd Rundgren and Carole King – ‘Coulda Been My Love’ is a prime slice of AOR balladry, while ‘How Can You Really’ is a sharply sketched rewrite of Rundgren’s ‘I Saw The Light’.
 But during a four-part graveyard – sorry, “suite” – everything starts to unravel. ‘Hot Summer’ is a pointless Suicide pastiche. ‘Cold Winter/Freedom’ is four minutes of irritating drone. ‘Brooklyn Police Station’, featuring vocals from White Fence’s Tim Presley, cribs lazily from Them’s ‘Gloria’. And ‘The Game’ sounds, impolitely, like Syd Barrett taking a dump in your back garden.

On it goes, all smeared vocals and lunatic mixing, until ‘Everyone Needs Love’, a lovely, Jagger-esque ballad with backing vocals from Wayne Coyne, arrives to a feeling of: ‘Where the fuck have you been for the last 50-odd minutes?’ And that’s the frustrating thing: Foxygen’s talents shine despite themselves here. Maybe they’ll knuckle down next time now they’ve got this sprawling mess out their systems? If there is a next time.