For anyone who’s ever stayed up through graveyard hours into the next day, the sunrise seems less like an event and more like a discovery. Sure, it’s the same sun you’ve always seen, the same streets and buildings, but it all somehow feels unprecedented in the grey light. It’s moments like these where St. Louis’ Foxing lives. The Albatross, a tender and raw space that feels almost stumbled-upon, toes the line between emo and indie with startling restraint, only letting everything spill loose when it absolutely cannot hold another second.
This peculiar and private mood is largely owed to the album’s excellent instrumentation. Guitars build grand post-rock sweeps, noodle in mathy polyrhythm, and wander aimlessly with indie-tinged sighs. Underneath, the drumset keeps tastefully busy time, quietly stirring up the skins like gathering morning commuters. The combination is difficult to characterize, eschewing traditional verse/chorus structure in a way that almost makes every note seem a pleasant surprise; ‘Bit By a Dead Bee Pt. 1’ builds delicately on stuttering percussion and floating reverb into an all-out flurry of activity that rises and subsides organically.
This organic liveliness acheived by a veritable neighborhood of instrumental extras, with trumpet, saxophone, trombone, violin, cello, and flute waking at various times in the light. However, none ever linger on the scene — ‘Den Mother’ talks lightly with its string companions, each swell bringing only subtle change to the conversation. ‘Bloodhound’ leans heavily on thick and saturated piano like bar hoppers wandering home at last. They move separately through the fading night, all woven together in pathways that strike each all-night observer a little differently.
This shifting drama together is undoubtedly held together by vocalist Conor Murphy. Whether he’s softly murmuring or splitting his throat, the sheer sincerity of every syllable demands attention. His lyrical content is by no means novel — talks of angst, loneliness, and relationships that often surface in the wee hours — but Murphy makes it feel foreign and vulnerable again, each take sounding more like a live confession than a studio clip. ‘Rory’ opens over piano with the heart rending ‘I swear I’m a good man’, only to blast outward shrieking right at the fever pitch of dawn. The mix of speaking and singing and shouting fits beautifully against the amorphous styling of The Albatross, some moments – the marvelous quarrelling with a female chorale in ‘Quietus’ and the boys’ chanted refrain – unearthing genuine insight come daybreak.
Therein lies the real draw of Foxing. Each of these moments feels fresh in a way few things do, almost as though the listener is discovering something entirely new along with the band. It’s personal in an unassuming way, ambitious without reaching for everything at once, and ultimately one hell of a view.
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