Dealer by Foxing
Foxing, the quintet from St. Louis, Missouri, lay on the spectrum of the classified emo genre, touching on post-rock elements with this undefined essence. Really, to give them a genre to fall under seems demeaning, because their collaborations are everything but parallel to other underground bands that follow within their position virally. Releasing their second album, Dealer, was a shot in the dark, as their two year-old pioneering album The Albatross emerged from simple links. The outcome was like finding a slab of gold under the bed of the ocean, because it was just so original and gave you that pearlescent breath of fresh air when it came to skimming through music blogs. To this day, fans still come to Foxing’s shows just to scream lyrics to tracks on their first album, like “The Medic” or “Inuit”.
Opening to Dealer’s release at the end of October, I was generally excited and anticipated for this stirring group to return with something completely off-tracked from The Albatross. I thought, “It would still be enlightening to revive the mysterious album, but it would be even better if they grew out of the stage of repetition.” First listening to Foxing around the time of their arrival to Triple Crown Records, I discovered the difference of sound they portrayed; faint lyrics from the vocalist Conor Murphy, but ambient crescendos into raw alluring melodies that just make the everyday man ponder. But the instrumental components, however, is the part I always tend to pivot on in the delicacy of music. You get lost in the clean duo of rhythm and melodic licks on their reverbed guitars that peek into the scene like rays of sunlight shifting to a window. On this now-illuminated floor, you find the drummer keeping the natural flow of instrumentation in order, then the scintillas of synth and modulations sweeping into the scenery. With all honesty, that’s the feeling I got when listening to The Albatross all the way through. So naturally, when I discovered the announcement that new material was in the works, I sparked up, and thought about the times I sat alone and gave their first record a spin.
However, this isn’t about The Albatross, no matter how important it is to mention within the band’s discography. Before the streaming of Dealer, they released the single “The Magdalene” in the summer, and it was a surprise to find it while listening to them one day towards the middle of August. I came in to the assumption that it would sound ridiculously similar to the tracks in the previous album, but that wasn’t the outcome. “The Magdalene” touches discretely on Conor’s experience with his revoke on Catholicism’s practices; primarily to sexual aspirations before marriage. The divulgence of the lyrics gave light to the first significant change. The Albatross went through content more metaphorical, concealing some of the actuality to give listeners the upper hand at finding their personal touch on it more believably. “The Magdalene” picks out a very specific scene in the first stanza of lyrics, being the frameworks of guilt from faith while disobeying practices. “I’m going down with the rosary/ Tongue pressed on guilt, from a dove in my teeth” revealing the guilt of faith through something that appears to exert more pleasure over sin.
Aside from the meaning, first hearing the track, it started with the wonderful melody of Eric Hudson’s rhythm with the low roar of Josh Coll’s bass. Jon Hellwig follows behind with his bass pedal. The magic then happens when the transition comes into view with Conor Murphy’s more matured sense of singing. The change was so notable, you could think of him as a new vocalist, because the rawness wasn’t so entropic, but clean and organized. It was a very enticing refinement, and not a reason for disappointment. Ricky Sampson hides behind all of the magic, just forming ambiance within the collaborating members, with guitar leads coated in reverb and opaque delay to seep you into the song much further. Overall, the song is just well composed, with extraordinary meaning, let alone have the catchy line “when they unravel the webs that I’ve spun, what shall be undone?” that keeps you asking to hear Murphy sing that beautiful line more and more.
Another single came out within a couple weeks before Dealer’s arrival, which was “Weave”, and was streaming on The Wall Street Journal, which is extremely weighty for a band like Foxing. Unfortunately, the song didn’t hit me as hard as “The Magdalene”, mainly being the fact that the song’s dynamics didn’t stun me as a typical Foxing track would. But, as I looked within the meaning of the song, it turns out to be their “official” exit from The Albatross. It made more sense, and I appreciated this audible connotation. The instrumental was speaking its adieu to me, opening themselves to the new horizons that are not yet revealed in the upcoming tracks. I began to love it more than ever before.
As these two songs kept my elation going, Foxing announces its full album stream a week or so before the physical copies and its release on iTunes. I could not contain myself to not listen to this album, so I found the stream and listened to the whole composition.
Dealer was a darker turn for the group than ever before. The songs were slower and more heart-wrenching than The Albatross, which could be an appreciative change for some fans while others might fully disapprove of the alter, but everyone is entitled to a difference of taste. Upon my first listen, I didn’t get to appreciate the tracks as much as I wish I had, because it was a mass of songs that were difficult to interpret upon a single listen and a brisk transition to the next. It’s an album you really have to give more than one listen to appreciate the incremental aspects of it. The one that always appeals to me is Sampson’s element of bright leads to clash with the saddening rhythms. Upon first listen, you set your attention to Conor Murphy and his style of singing, before you really analyze the composition of everything else. Of course, in the instrumental tracks like “Winding Cloth” and “Coda”, that’s not the case.
The themes of the album circulate to God, guilt, and love, creating this mental battle of self-destruction from things one could have avoided, but couldn’t refrain. “The Magdalene” refers to all of these elements with a personal look at Murphy’s younger love life. As you delve more into Dealer, you’ll come across the track “Night Channels”, a track that enters with ambience and the solemn chords on a piano with Conor’s slow reflection on himself and his failure to refrain from the venereal aspects of love, which many can in fact relate to. Another track, “Indica”, comes from bassist Josh Coll about his experience in the Army and the post-traumatic stress that enveloped afterwards.
The album is undoubtedly different from the direction they were in while creating The Albatross, but in a more mature and defined pace. After listening and interpreting the songs, it makes you really feel closer to the members of the band, as if you are more than acquainted. It can be shown that Foxing loves doing what they do, and they take the time to make something that changes the lives of some or just please the feelings of others. This album will guarantee-ably take you away from life through headphones, and it will draw you a picture of the members through their flaws and abilities to express them beautifully.