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Foxing: Draw Down the Moon

Foxing have always played it big. Their best moments, even in their twee emo years, were when Murphy belted about stinking like an ashtray. They are human microphones for nano interactions, finding melancholic shreds in trivial details, like relating to a houseplant of all things, and filling them with Odyssean pomp. Nobody else could reconcile bad breath into vulnerability like them.

It logically followed that they’d amplify themselves on their last album, Nearer My God, but it was the extent to which along with their execution that defied expectations. They became arena emo. Now, they’ve made the album Jack Antonoff wished he could make while still being quirky boys who like Dungeons & Dragons as much as they love romancing sadness. On Draw Down the Moon, Foxing applies their large-scale vision to pop music. They narrowed their song structures to optimize the magnitude; you won’t find much outside of a traditional song formula, certainly nothing like Nearer My God’s “Five Cups.” You can’t complain though — this is the biggest pop album you’ll hear in 2021. Every second detonates with emo’s already overblown emotions. It’s the optimal outcome of indie rock’s slow congelation into poptimism. Even the prolonged closer “Speak With The Dead” spends its last minutes fawning over Foxing’s bombasity.

If you miss their former emo-stylings, you might be disappointed, but come on: that ship has long since sailed. Foxing slam-dunked emo on 2013’s The Albatross. Thus, they find it pointless to retrace their steps. Don’t fret if you have an unnatural craving for their tender roots — there’s an acoustic ballad for you, but Foxing have no interest in reruns, so they’ve smothered it with vocal tracks. You’ll like it, even if the hook pales next to the simmering choruses elsewhere on Draw Down the Moon. You might also feel disappointed if you wanted Foxing to go deeper into the experimental rock of Nearer My God. But that’s not why the album excelled. It was catatonic because Foxing successfully took emo’s conflict of insular feelings with overt expressionism, often veiled through shoddy playing and noodling, and made it as big as possible.

Nearer My God was planet-sized, so they challenged themselves on Draw Down the Moon by matching every part of the music to the proportion of the emotions. It satiates as a pop album with its distinct identity owing to Foxing’s macro-level examinations of love, witches, and existentialism. Draw Down the Moon pivots to indietronica in defiance of The Albatross’ homely emo-cum-math rock and the rockism of Nearer My God, which leads Foxing to their full pop opus.

Oh, this one is big. It’s bold. It’s also bursting with bubbles amongst the buzzing mixes. “Where the Lightning Strikes Twice” rivals the guitar solo of “Lich Prince.” Unlike the latter, this solo isn’t the culmination of a slow-burning reconciliation and exhumation of one’s insignificance. Here, it ups the ante. “Where the Lightning Strikes Twice” ratchets up a flaming hot solo after soaring through an entire massive pop track. Not big enough for you? Okay, here are some vocal overdubs along with your ‘80s hair metal guitar worship. Foxing supersized it just for you. Eat it all cowboy, then return for dessert.

Draw Down the Moon is a one-man race to maximalism. Each track elevates a step beyond its predecessor. “Bialystock” buries Conor Murphy’s vocals under digital smog until the pressure explodes. A synthetic keyboard, one that you want to believe is a keytar, just to match the image, jolts to the forefront. It’s not the only time Foxing weaponizes their synths and they’re also not their most surprising addition to Drawn Down the Moon’s palette. They incorporate a banjo as well because if they’re already aiming for the moon they may as well shoot for the stars. There’s shredding on “Cold Blooded.” Does the song need it? You bet your ass it does, just like it needs its fleeting piano. Why does the drummer punish his drum kit in the closing minute of “Cold Blooded”? Why does “If I Believed in Love” have to fly at light speed? Because, Foxing answers, someone has to.

You’d better come into Draw Down the Moon starving because it’ll fill you up. it goes beyond big. Everything here functions by necessity. It’d be disingenuous if every chorus didn’t try to fill a stadium, or if the synthesizers didn’t unearth existential woes. You came here for a buffet, and you’ll leave stuffed. Foxing maximizes their ambitions by toying with various volumes. The overwhelming guitar tracks are just as vital as Murphy’s tectonic vocals. It works because they pair their size with humane observations. Amid their explosions, Murphy hones in on specifics like he’s reacting to them in real-time. He rejoices that he can argue with his partner in the kitchen. Just cause they’re going for broke doesn’t mean they can’t step back. They’ll recede to marvel at the mundane moments.

Summary
With Draw Down the Moon, the ever-evolving Foxing challenge themselves by matching every part of the music to the proportion of the emotions — and in turn deliver their pop opus.
80 %
Bigger Than The Black Parade
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