No doubt the 60s were an incredibly important decade for music, British music in particular. The 60s brought us the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who- some of the biggest names to grace the music scene, plus with the 60s came a thriving youth culture and mod subculture that has remained an undercurrent in the music scene to this day. Paul Weller and the Jam brought mod back in the 80s, Blur infused mod elements into Britpop and current acts like Miles Kane carry on the mod mantle.
60s music is so profoundly British, and has remained an important influence British music ever since, yet a couple of lads from California have released an album that embodies the decade more than any other in recent memory.
Foxygen’s “We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic” is an utterly charming romp through music history, with Rolling Stones infused R&B, twinges of early David Bowie and of course, a bouncy mod swagger.
With their throwback style, they manage to stand out from the current music scene, yet with their fusion of current and past influences they don’t sound like 60s copycats either. You can tell from their goofy name and long-winded album title these guys are just out to have a good time and they certainly succeed; their crazy jumble of sounds and influences works in a way it honestly shouldn’t. Their songs are peppered with so many unique breaks and interludes you can hardly believe it’s the same song in the middle as it was at the beginning.
“San Francisco” might as well be a lost Kinks track with breathy Belle and Sebastian-esque backing vocals, and On Blue Mountain [the stand-out track] is half Mick Jagger blues and half strung-out Velvet Underground moaning. And of course, the album has a touch of the Beatles, bookended by songs with a Sgt. Pepper flair.
Somehow they manage to embody a whole musical decade in one 9 track album, not by teathering themselves to only a 60s sound, but rather by embodying the very essence of the fun, quirky freedom that decade brought us. It’s an album for the modern-day mods, a true adventure, sloppy and haphazardly grabbing influences from everywhere to create a sound so fresh and uniquely theirs. Rarely do we get an album so bold and memorable, with every last moment both perfect and perplexing. It’s the most cutting-edge nostalgia you’ll ever encounter.