Foxygen’s Hang is not the album America deserves, but it’s the album it needs.
In these dark days of Trumpie fascism, where simply being the wrong color or religion can get your life destroyed, you can break out your baklavas and start singing for revolution, you can ignore it and sing about puppy dogs and kitty cats, or you can respond with the only tried and true method to counter pure, unmitigated evil: silliness.
In the last days of the Weimar Republic, Germans escaping the Hitlerian nightmare around them turned to the Kabaret, which offered social and political satire, music, but most of all, silliness. Very un-Prussian silliness. There was a movie about it once. You might have heard about it.
“When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight. Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor.” – John Lennon.
So goes it with Jonathan Rado and Sam France’s Hang, who had no idea this album would the salve it would be in these violent times.
The album starts off with Follow the Leader, a Jagger-esque romp over a Fender Rhodes piano, met with cascading strings that just seem to work. Midway a horn section accentuates the bridge with a very late 70s visualization of 20s Hollywood.
Avalon continues this vibe, but ratchets it up to “eleven” by inserting an Abba-esque chorus and, yes, a tap dance solo. It is as if France showed up on the Muppet Show, slipped Kermit a hit of acid, strapped some taps to his feet and whispered in his ear “Come on Kermie…they’re all here to see yoooou! See you TAAAAAP DAAAANCE!!!”
In fact, this whole album, backed with a full orchestra, seems as if it’s not the LA Philharmonic but the Muppet Show Orchestra, complete with Electric Mayhem playing.
I could go on over each track. On Lankershim is the greatest song Elton John and The Eagles never wrote. Upon a Hill is pure France silliness, with him bellowing the lyrics as if he were in a Junior High musical. Yet, it’s still beautiful work. Every note.
We need this. We don’t deserve it, having thrown away the republic for a poor man’s Hitler, but we need it.