Common Wall Media
Spry, ecstatic, wide-eyed electro-pop from a pair of long-lost ace faces, Rob Withem (of Fine China) and Ronnie Martin (from the fabulous Joy Electric), who well understand how danceable one-fingered keyboard alchemy must be balanced with a sense of the epic melancholy that can come from just the right synth wash or a whooshing, triumphant chorus. It’s that devotion to the inherent majesty that can be wrought from new wave/synth-pop that separates Foxglove Hunt from every other cokehead with a synthesizer who figures that this sorta thing begins and ends with “Are Friends Electric.” They anchor songs with these great eighth-note bass lines that sound like tears falling in rapid succession. The synth lines are definitely of a different time, yet still without sounding like museum pieces. The shared vocals sound overwhelmed and fragile, instead of louche or sleazy, and that anti-edge of innocence and joy makes the album a whole lot more effective than many of their template-aping colleagues.
As well, Foxglove Hunt’s tasteful borrowing from impeccable influences makes songs like “A Concealed Weapon” soar by on a Peter Hook-ish bass line swoon and a head-rushing, silk-gloved fist-in-the-air chorus like all the best New Order. More echoes of Manchester’s second finest, along with the Pet Shop Boys’ sumptuous blankets of electro glitter on “Strength Early,” the elegantly constructed keyboards counterpointed by little-boy-lost quavery vocals. And speaking of choruses, check out the tear jerker from “That’s Getting Personal,” one that Echo and the Bunnymen wouldn’t mind pinching, spidery simple guitar lines envelop keyboards rising up to the heavens and that falsetto cooing “Are you really fine?” over and over and over again.
Of course, things occasionally do get a little too early-Depeche-Mode chirpy and sugary, like the too-cute-by-half chorus and bouncy castle keyboards of “Business Casual” and “Mayflower Compact.” The architectural essaying “The Life Highrise” combines the more insistent, martial beats of a daf (and some robot handclaps) with the metropolitan eye for detail of a David Sylvian and calming Kraftwerk-simple keyboards occasionally clash with guitar feedback. Bonafides are proudly displayed on a chiming and enjoyably 100-percent synthetic cover of Psychedelic Furs’ “Love My Way” — played it to a Furs lover from way back, and he had me repeat it a few times, good sign. Sounds remarkably more naive in the hands of Foxglove Hunt, whereas the Furs always sounded sort of sinister and world-weary. I like this album, it seems like a complete, consistent statement of what the future could have been.
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