[sic] Magazine

Foxwarren – Foxwarren

Remember when Fleet Foxes’ debut album arrived around about a decade ago and you almost did a double-take, wondering whether you were listening to something contemporary, or perhaps 30 years old? It felt like you were suddenly getting into a band whose music has long since passed you by, only to discover that it was in fact a new release. Foxwarren’s debut album will bring those same thoughts flooding back. Not that it matters. While it’s possible that Foxwarren may have turned off their radios & TVs in 1975, their clear love of classic pop shines throughout this album. Vocalist/Guitarist Andy Shauf clearly knows a thing or two about a good melody and there are generous nods to Beach Boys, Paul Simon, High Llamas and Local Natives.

Foxwarren, their self-titled debut, has a laid-back, acoustic feel practically throughout its duration. Also, despite its winter release, there’s a definite summery West Coast vibe going on here – it’s very easy to imagine yourself kicking back in the garden with some friends over a few beers on a hazy Saturday afternoon while this album soundtracks the event. It’s almost impossible not to assume that Foxwarren are from California – it’s only since I’ve read up on the band that I’ve discovered that they’re a four piece who actually hail from Canada.

It would be fair to say that the album is definitely an understated collection of songs. ‘To Be’ sets the tone really well with its simple acoustic strum-line and a ‘smooth-as-butter’ vocal. The vocals really matter throughout this album, they’re absolutely the reason you’re here, believe me. The instrumentation bridges the gaps and occupies the spaces left by the melody lines. There are also some surprises – ‘Lost In A Dream’ carries a lovely sequence of minor chords, and ‘Everything Apart’ starts on the off-beat – the band also manages to keep enough fuel in the tank for some perfect harmonies in the chorus. In fact, ‘Everything Apart’ is pretty much a standout track and manages to sound both contemporary while also wearing its influences close to its heart; there’s just the right level of darkness and ‘danger’ in the track to make it work perfectly.


Throughout the album, the drums (and generally all of the instrumentation) are fairly restrained in the mix, which affords lots of space for the vocals. Fans of vocal-driven records will simply fall in love with this album, although I’ve actually found myself focusing on the instrumentation during subsequent auditions of the album – it’s a reassessment which I’ve found interesting because there’s clearly been a lot of care in what notes are recorded – ‘Fall Into A Dream’ is a particularly good example of a track where the band has obviously collectively invested in the song writing process; right from the start there’s a nice guitar riff which sets the tone, but it’s actually the second-half of the song which is of particular interest as the band develops an absorbing loop around a single bass note, edging eventually towards a single fading drone.

‘Lost In You’ is a reflective number where the band plays with time signatures, although I’m not personally convinced the switch from 4/4 to the chorus in 3/4 is entirely successful. The instrumentation can’t be faulted, however, particularly during the string section around halfway through. It’s also quite a dark track. ‘Your Small Town’, on the other hand, offers up a more upbeat chord sequence while the lyrics hint of sadness and loss – “I am your small town, breathing down your neck; Reaching for a helping hand; If you’re gonna leave, then leave me be”.

In summary, Foxwarren have produced a really interesting album which I can easily see appealing to a wide audience.