Something I’ve often wondered about Florence Welch and her mechanical band is what would they sound like if they experimented with mixing their unique brand of gothic Neo-Folk with Electronic Pop music? Well, it didn’t take long to get my answer when the music of singer-songwriter Louisa Rose Allen, AKA Foxes, caught the attention of my ears.
Foxes’ music has been hovering about for some time, as lead single ‘Youth’ had been floating around the blogosphere for the better part of two years before climbing it’s way into the top 20 of multiple charts. Despite the single’s lengthy stay, the majority will probably know Foxes from her collaborative efforts (Zedd’s award winning ‘Clarity’, Rudimental’s D&B thrasher ‘Right Here’, Sub Focus’ dubstep ballad ‘Until The End’ and even Fallout Boy’s ‘Just One Yesterday’).
From past collaborations, I wouldn’t blame you if you were expecting an album full of club bangers with EDM-drops aplenty where it’s more about the music and the singer feels like a guest on her own album. But that’s not the case… At all!
Foxes’ aptly titled album ‘Glorious’ opens with a storm in the shape of the ferociously primal ‘Talking To Ghosts’. As Foxes offers herself as the guiding light to the ghost of someone who is no longer around, an Asian melody hovers alongside addictively shivering synths and epic tribal drums that roar with enough vigour to start an earthquake at any one of her gigs. It’s very rare I listen to an album track and think “This needs to be a single” but this really needs to be a single.
“It was the first song where I thought, ‘OK, now I can see the vision, now I can see the album’,” Foxes once said in an interview regarding lead single ‘Youth’, the quirky half-ballad, half-tribal pop stomper that helped to stamp Foxes name on the music industry. The first half of the song revolves around heavy bass and atmosphere before jumping into a toe-tapping second verse and becoming the tribal-smash that fans know and love. The song is definitely more lyric-oriented as Foxes’ unique songwriting style here speaks of living out one’s many unfulfilled desires before youth fades, but with each dream accomplished, youth begins anew.
Current single ‘Holding Onto Heaven’ is a stampeding 80’s-esque ballad. While it doesn’t carry the immediate urgency of her previous singles, Foxes’ bare-to-the-bone voice swim beautifully among the twinkles and pianos before soaring on the wings of a choir during the breakbeat-inspired chorus.
‘White Coats’ is one of the songs on the album that predates ‘Youth’ and I couldn’t be happier with its inclusion on the album. A lot of her earlier listeners have been worried of reworking and polishing on the album’s older songs, but rest assured, ‘White Coats’ remains as quirky as it was when it first came out. Vocal samples and heavy dub-bass are what give this strange little number its feet, with these being the main components that catch your ear, the chorus does catch you off guard a bit as the experimentation transforms into defiant- glistening synthpop heaven for the chorus. Lyrically, there is a level of darkness in the song as she tells us a tale of what sounds like unrequited love inflicting an unstable mental condition on her despite her belief that this person is her saviour (‘And if the men in White Coats are coming, I know you’ll still be there for me, to chase down the wolves around us’).
‘Let Go For Tonight’ is the only song that once heard in demo form has been changed drastically. Serving as the second single, ‘Let Go For Tonight’ hits the nail on the head with its title; live free and do whatever you want. Yes, I’m aware that this is a very weary lyrical subject; I doubt there’s a musician or band alive that hasn’t written a song with that kind of message. But Foxes does it with such a level of expertise that it really doesn’t matter. A magnificent piano melody, accompanied by massive claps, lures you into a hypnotic verse where Foxes leads you through a slow build to a jubilant chorus that’s full of colour and light.
Samples of birdsong can be heard on the dazzlingly cinematic ballad that is ‘Night Glo’. Beauty and heartbreak permeate from each and every pore of this breathtaking song; there is a heavy weight of emotion in the vocals that feels like Foxes is singing as though this would be her swan song.
‘Night Owls Early Birds’ brings back the stomp of ‘Let Go…’ but incorporates a Marina & The Diamonds-esque Indie Pop Rock vibe. Where the latter brings you to your feet for some carefree, high-energy bouncing-off-the-walls, ‘Night Owls…’ is one of those songs that is so bewildering in it’s energy that it can knock you out. Paired together with ‘Night Glo’ and ‘Let Go For Tonight’, these three tracks balance each other out in a way that would make one think that Foxes has been making albums for years.
Title track ‘Glorious’, in short, is what it says on the tin. The melancholic faux-dubstep ballad truly stands out on the album and it’s easy to see why the album shares its name with this song. Foxes’ unique songwriting stands out yet again and also shows off her flare for writing a catchy melody. While it’s impossible to fault ‘Glorious’ in any way, it’s best moment is the final minute where Foxes is joined by layer upon layer of backing vocals to belt out a heart wrenching lyric and melody combination to an epic crescendo.
‘Echo’ takes us back to quirky-pop Foxes and is another “oldie” in her back catalogue. One of the best pop songs of 2012, ‘Echo’ is as elegant as it is captivating. Her illuminating voice delivers impeccably on this hook-heavy skyscraper of a song. There isn’t a single flaw here and I dare you to try and find one.
‘Shaking Heads’ is the immediate-download track you receive upon pre-ordering this album. Potentially the most prolific and experimental song on the album, this mid-tempo ballad brings back those tribal drums we love so much, but also brings in frantic metallic clatters, as strange a combination this sounds, these two percussive elements work together so well that somewhere in the madness, they create a work of understated beauty. Creating an almost Worldbeat effect, for me, the song reminds me of Alexz Johnson’s debut album ‘Voodoo’.
The standard edition of the album closes with the ghostly ballad ‘Count The Saints’, a scarcely present drum and an other-worldly piano melody accompany Foxes to a masterpiece in the world of pop balladry about looking at the positives in your life rather than focusing on the negatives and forcing that negativity onto others.
On the deluxe edition, we are treated to some more of Foxes’ earlier works. ‘Beauty Queen’ invokes the crystal-clear shine of ‘White Coats’ combined with the intelligent pop-urgency on ‘Let Go For Tonight’.
‘Home’ contains an intro with a childlike sense of innocence as Foxes sings along a hushed xylophone before sweeping you off your feet with a monstrously unnerving Electronic/Trip Hop vibe that recalls Tricky at his best, making this an absolutely wonderful song to sink your teeth into.
‘In Her Arms’ features one of the most beautiful sounding instruments on the planet; the Hang drum, an instrument of Swiss origin that has been used by some of the greats in the world of Electronic music, including; Imogen Heap, Bjork and Guy Sigsworth .
‘The Unknown’ is where we have to say goodbye to this brilliant album, but Foxes decides to go out in style with a frivolously fun and unapologetic 80’s-esque disco banger. Remember those songs that would make jump around and dance like nobody else was watching you? Yep, that’s what this one sounds like.
It’s been a long time coming, but Foxes has executed a near-perfect album that remains cohesive without each song sounding like one another. Hitting the nail on the head, this album is very much a glorious effort.
‘Glorious’ is available for pre-order and will be released on May 12th.
Watch the video for current single ‘Holding Onto Heaven’ below