We often find ourselves in ruts. Maybe you’re in a job you don’t like, so you gain new skills and work hard to find a job you do. Sometimes you’re in a bad relationship that either needs to be fixed or end. Often you get into a position where you identify something you don’t like about yourself – a habit, for instance – so you put in time and energy to change. The point is things and people evolve and change over time. Foxing, the plucky little emo/post-rock group out of St. Louis, has found itself in a similar position with their new record, Nearer My God.
Foxing has been slowly evolving over the course of seven years. Many would listen and hear elements of emo and post-rock, though they have also involved the use of strings and shoegaze over the years. While they have been playing with these elements, it’s all been building to the overall combination of those elements. It ends up becoming an alternative statement on indie music in general.
There’s a lot to dig into in this album. The influences are numerous and worn on the sleeve. Foxing was originally known for the more quiet and simple emo-style tracks, and of course, that hasn’t gone away. The album is infused with a number of relevant styles such as Bon Iver-inspired producing and studio treatments to songs flecked throughout the album. At the same time, there’s some high art rock throughout but specifically on the Panic! At the Disco style high energy dance rock on the track “Gameshark.”
Foxing knows where their bread is buttered and make sure to cover the softer emo rock they’re known for. The first single “Slapstick” is littered with it. Quiet, clean guitars, rich in reverb and chorus, accompany vocalist Conor Murphy’s lyrics. You might think about early Flaming Lips in part of the song and most of the album as a whole. There are these quiet sections accompanied by some synths and studio effects on top. The whole ambiance is especially noticeable on “Lich Prince” specifically due to the overwhelming feeling of being in a failing relationship from the lyrics. It’s prime emo stuff that will make the sad boys get their sad jollies going.
One thing else to discuss is the indie epic “Five Cups”. Clearly, it’s the story of substance abuse or a suicide or some other poetic tragedy. But it’s more about how the music reflects the feeling. There are a lot of background shouts in the mix, emulating the inner monologue of a person considering a decision they can’t take back. There’s a section of the song that’s extremely spacious with a questionable rhythm. It very much reflects a moment in life when time seems to stop. It’s quite an amazing realization to see how the band can understand the feeling so deeply and could very easily fight to be a top song of the year.
Those of you who were looking forward to repeats of Dealer or The Albatross might be disappointed that the band you knew is different. However, this album shows that the band is able to evolve, and that should be embraced. It’s a marked change in the group and shows a positive trajectory of embracing the more artistic and experimental nature of post-rock and emo. After multiple listens, this record is in the running for album of the year.