One of my favourite things about music has always been the way in which we consume it. I have never cared about perfection, nor how to define a sound. I often struggle to describe bands to people based on what they sound like. In a world full of such technology it just makes more sense to pull out your phone, open Spotify and press play. However if you want to talk about what the band are about, what they mean to me, or to others, then I am absolutely here.
I have seen a lot of articles and comments on how Foxing’s third record is different to anything they’ve ever done. That they experiment with new sounds and some of their fans might not like it, and to some extent this may be true. However I think it’s important to note that just as bands adapt, so do their fans, so we need to look deeper than ‘it sounds different’. There is so much more to a band than the general structure and genre of their music.
I was only introduced to Foxing last year, and although I listened to them religiously for a good few months, I would never suggest that I know a lot about them. However, what I have found is that no matter what they do with their songs, the one thing that sticks is that brutal sting of emotion. For me this is much more a defining feature than what genre they happen to be. That’s the thing as well, bands experiment, their sound changes, so how can you ask me at any time what a band sounds like, just off the bat? Do you mean right now, or their first album, maybe their live presence? What? It’s one of the things I’ve struggled the most with when it comes to writing about music. I’ve often questioned my worth as a “music journalist” when people can just listen to albums online. I realised that reviews were no longer for telling you that you might like this band if you also happen to like this other band. Don’t even get me started on star ratings. Abolish them, please. Music is a creation, and I don’t think anyone has any right to assess its value. Instead let’s have conversations about the feelings you get from it. I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent here but I promise you it’s all relevant. I guess my point is that there is more to a band staying true to themselves than maintaining the same sound throughout their career.
Despite that, one of the most distinct things about Foxing for me are the vocals, and with Nearer My God that has most definitely not changed. The thing is, it’s not just Conor Murphy’s emotinally charged voice, but the way in which backing vocals drive the song along just the same as the instruments. Yes it refers to a sound, but it’s way deeper than that. Every element carries so much feeling, whether it is melancholy or general feelings of uprising in say, ‘Gameshark’. See for yourself how the band explore different genres in this album, but let me tell you now, the consistency of their mood and power is what carries it all together.
This is an album that leads Murphy to tell a crowd at Bush Hall that this is the “proudest [they] have ever been of anything [they] have ever made”, and it absolutely shows. Something hit me that night as I was surrounded by fellow fans. These people were more like followers. I mean, the love I saw on one guy’s face, as he held his hands to his chest and sang along to every song with the biggest smile on his face. I don’t know this guy but I felt SO connected to him and THAT is the kinda stuff I live for. Like I said, I haven’t listened to Foxing for a long time, but I felt so unbelievably proud in that moment that I wanted to cry. Some bands come and go; you enjoy their sound in the background of your life. Then bands like Foxing come along, and there’s a connection for life. What I love even more is that this is different for everyone. Bands connect to different people for different reasons and I am soooo into all of that.
Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, Foxing’s own presence on stage was phenomenal. The way they carried themselves on stage and moved with the motions of tracks new and old spoke louder than any technical sound could possibly do. Watching them perform is incredibly enchanting and something I whole heartedly recommend, whether you know one song, all of them or none at all.
Nearer My God holds a lot of religious connotations and those new tracks they played at Bush Hall only elevated this to creating a night of worship to Foxing themselves. They described the show as the most memorable eves of their lives, and the same may be said for many others in the room that night. There was something in the air, a rush of honest emotion and passion with every little thing they did. Sure it may have been the jet lag kicking in, but these guys lost themselves entirely in their set. It was then that you could see that Foxing had really found themselves, not just with the new album, but with the journey towards it.
I’m going to refer back to ‘Gameshark’, a track from the new album that I didn’t fully appreciate until hearing it live. My initial notes on this track are really quite sparse compared to others from the album. “Fast pace. BASS. Chaos”. These were my exact words. Oh how naive. I want to address that by chaos, I mean the most delicious kind. It’s a quick track, but it sure felt like they played an extended version in London. It is a moment that I remember far more vividly than any other track played that night. It was honestly something so biblical, the blend of frenzied vocals and ominous choir-esque roars. Maybe it was also the red lighting. I don’t know. All I know is that like I said earlier, it certainly felt like an uprising. Such power to fuel a wave of energy, only to end fairly abruptly, at least on record. A fury swept across Bush Hall that night and it was the perfect note of the evening as a whole.
People sang along, but also stood in complete silence. There was a real mix of moods and response, all well suited to every moment. It was intense. The only time I took my eyes off the band were when my peripherals caught glimpses of people like that guy with his hands on heart. That night was pure magic, a real testament to the years of hard work that has lead to Nearer My God, and I will remember it for years to come.