Foxing Voyage to a Galaxy of Their Own on 'Draw Down the Moon'
Published Aug 05, 2021By now, Foxing can only be expected to keep pushing their limits and defying expectations. When the St. Louis group emerged in 2013 with their endearing debut The Albatross, they were already among the most forward-thinking purveyors of the emo revival (even if the full weight of their significance is only being retroactively acknowledged years later). With their sophomore album Dealer in 2015, they gave early fans their first challenge with a muted and darkly majestic sound that still demands the right atmosphere and attention to truly be appreciated. They reached their going-for-it moment with Nearer My God in 2018, as they burst forth with an array of bold ideas in one of the most unashamedly audacious indie-rock records of that decade.
In anticipation of Foxing's fourth album Draw Down the Moon, it wasn't even worth guessing what they'd do — you just had to wait and see. (The band teased the album with a cryptic series of online games called "rituals," the first sign to expect the unexpected.) As it turns out, Nearer My God wasn't necessarily Foxing's magnum opus, but their modus operandi: Draw Down the Moon is a very different record, but it retains that same level of adventurousness.
Foxing are known for going big, and there's nothing bigger than the vast eternity of existence. Throughout Draw Down the Moon, Foxing ruminates on the "cosmic significance" of being one person in a boundless universe. The record draws from religion and spirituality but also Dungeons & Dragons and magical folklore — taking its title from Margot Adler's book about contemporary Paganism — all while the band swirls and pulses through 40 minutes of music that incorporates remnants of the band's emo origins into a kaleidoscope of dance-floor pop, disco prog, orchestral post-rock and even a touch of alt-metal.
For Foxing, that sense of "cosmic significance" is in the interpersonal connections and shared experiences that make a single person part of something extraordinarily vast. These are songs about success and failure, time and aging, romance and sexuality, trust and vulnerability, love and death — all of them put forward with such passion and dedication that it certainly feels significant.
"If you should fall, I'll follow behind / We'll go down there together," Murphy sings in "Go Down Together," a song that, like many of the tracks on Draw Down the Moon, channels the alt-pop sounds of MGMT, Passion Pit, M83 and Cold War Kids. For a band of Foxing's background to make this kind of move is a risky proposition, and to do so while keeping intact the artful, atmospheric qualities that have defined them to date isn't easy. Yet on both fronts, songs like "Go Down Together," "Draw Down the Moon" and "If I Believed in Love" succeed greatly.
Draw Down the Moon was produced by the band's guitarist Eric Hudson over the course of a year at their St. Louis studio, before they headed to Georgia to finish the project with members of Manchester Orchestra and then finally sent it off for mixing by John Congleton (St. Vincent, Cloud Nothings). Those combined efforts have resulted in a sonically rich record that brings every smattering of ideas into tight focus. "Beacons," already a fan favourite from their pre-pandemic live shows, is exhilarating in its pulsating pace, soaring melodies and spacey sounds. "Cold Blooded" feels like a The Albatross-era tune with the rafter-reaching choruses of Arcade Fire's Funeral. "Where the Lightning Strikes Twice," easily the album's most polarizing cut, borrows the disco groove of Blondie's "Heart of Glass," the futuristic rock of Muse and a proudly indulgent guitar solo that would elicit a knowing smirk from Queen's Brian May.
Throughout, Murphy offers a string of reminders that even if it feels like it, we're never really alone. "Without you, I feel so homesick everywhere I go," he sings in the fuzzy groove of "Bialystok." "Honey, at least you found the floor / It can't get much worse than this," he croons in "At Least We Found the Floor," a song that's intimate and oddly comforting, especially if you're a fan of the National. These are the types of songs that speak to the power of human relationships — that those connections remain unshakably strong even in times of hardship.
"Speak with the Dead," featuring Yoni Wolf of WHY?, is the album's closing pièce de résistance: Setting the tone with a synth bed of celestial sounds inspired by Hans Zimmer's score to Interstellar, it builds into a glorious crescendo of thundering percussion and rousing horns reminiscent of Sigur Rós, before eventually opening up into a quasi jam session modelled after Steely Dan. It all works together beautifully, and the sense of longing for loved ones who have passed is devastatingly palpable. The album's final lines — "Wherever I go, there you are" — leave you to sit quietly with the notion that what binds us together lasts forever.
Making their case for a spot among widely revered art-rock outfits like Arcade Fire, Radiohead and Portugal. The Man, Foxing continue to be constantly compelling due to their insistent multidimensionality and commitment to going all-in with every effort. The band had already pushed well beyond their initial territory with Nearer My God. Draw Down the Moon transports them out of that world entirely and into a galaxy of their own. (Grand Paradise / Hopeless)