Foxing are a young alternative rock band hailing from Saint Louis, Missouri that evolved out of the crumbling of well-loved local post-rock band Hunter Gatherer. In need of a vocalist, the three remaining members added Connor Murphy, who was then bassist for the indie/emo powerhouse that is Family Might. In November of 2013 the band put out The Albatross, which was well received by those in the emo music scene as well as by bloggers and journalists. The band sells itself as playing “post-good.” at the heart of the music is post-rock progressions and sensibilities mixed with Murphy’s raw and emotional delivery of lyrical poetry reminiscent of that seen in the early Seattle emo scene.
On the topic of lyrical poetry The Albatross was a magnificently worded love letter of a man who deeply loved a woman and lost her, (see “Bloodhound,” “Inuit” and “Rory.”) as well as the woman he ended up with who clearly did not love him and was quite the liar, (see “The Medic” and “Bitten By a Dead B PT.1.”). The album delivered this mixed with more than a few nautical references. Dealer starts off “Weave,” a song that obviously weaves the story of the band’s two albums referencing the bloodhounds and the albatross and closes the story of the previous album as Murphy sings, “drained out a tunnel in an albatross/ now I’m haunted by the bird/ her hounds left tracks on my breath/ until I had no air left”. And as the song closes so to does The Albatross as murphy adds, “I’m alright/ it’s time I moved on”.
The story we get in Dealer becomes instantly clear as track two “The Magdalene.” Our protagonist has found a new girl and is about to steal her virginity. Yet he is struggling with the guilt of doing so presumably before marriage. As the chorus kicks in, Murphy’s clean yet raspy wails are a reminder of why the previous album was so well received and the vary words he sings are a reminder of the poetic ability that charmed fans and press alike. During the choruses, Murphy is not shy to bellow out his lies as he yells, “when they unravel the webs that I’ve spun/ what shall be undone? / When God unravels the webs that I’ve spun/ what shall be undone?” It quickly becomes apparent that this time around Murphy has ditched the nautical theme for a catholic theme.
The idea of lost virginity continues through the next couple tracks until we land upon “Indica”. Written by bassist Josh Coll about the time in which he spent serving with the American armed forces in Afghanistan, he wonders if he is now defined by the post traumatic stress disorder he admits to suffering after taking the life of some kids while overseas. In the catalogue of very honest songs Foxing has released this is perhaps the most honest. Coll has left no feeling unaddressed and in turn has written the band’s best song to date. “Indica,” also delivers some of the band’s best musical composition to date. The slow tempo, crystal clear guitar and added modification show of the group’s post-rock roots off so well.
After a brief instrumental break we revisit our couple, which are now madly in love and have moved into a suburban house together. We also learn through the lyrics of the first verse that our once virgin is now pregnant. “Sow seed in the hem of your dress/ in glowing favor you’ll bloom/ so I can scatter you around the room/ in hopes to keep love near the places we once kept warm”. It would appear that our dear protagonist feels as if the baby will keep the love in the relationship but come “Eifel” he is still struggling with the sins he has committed and the fear of involvement that comes with becoming a father. This fear mixed with the sheer ability of Murphy’s vocal range creates the album’s best song. The honesty of a man who feels he is not ready but also feels if he gives in, will be less of a man combined with some of the band’s best composition gives birth to a tune that will make it hard to move on an reach the end of the album.
On the topic of reaching the end of the album, here is a spoiler warning. If you don’t want the ending of the album’s story to be spoiled for you then please stop reading or skip to the end of the review.
The album comes to a close with “Three on a Match,” which finds our couple clouded in sadness. The Virgin has had a miscarriage and the protagonist blames it upon the sexual sins the couple engaged in pre-marriage. It is a somber and shocking ending to a story of visceral love between two humans. Each and every line in the song drips with it more than the opening of the chorus in which Murphy apologizes for the sins he led her into.
In closing Dealer is more than just a stellar sophomore release from a young band that is quickly turning heads. It is a primal, passionate, honest and cerebral story of love and the pressures that come along with it. “Weave” expertly casts off the past story line and begs for it to be left behind. With this new album, Foxing has shown they will not be defined by their previous success. Dealer feels new, experimental and unquestionably successful. So long as the band can continue to keep this drive and honesty in their music, there appears to be no limit to what they can achieve.
Luke Williams grew up a fan of punk and pop punk in a field of cows just outside of Barrie, Ontario. You can follow him on Twitter @musicwithluke