Foxy Shazam - Foxy Shazam Record Label: Sire Records
Release Date: April 13, 2010
Swagger. It was invented by the University of Miami in the 1980s. The football team would go around beating hapless Big East opponents by scores of like 70-7 and while they did it, they would engage in totally classy acts of celebration to overtly rub it in everyone's face. They would rack up hundreds of yards in unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and not care, because they knew they could still name their score. Then Miami moved to an Almost-Competitive Conference and hence haven't won a conference championship since, thereby transferring their swagger to the almighty Florida Gators of Gainesville.
Anyway, Foxy Shazam has swagger too. They doing what they do and they doing it with a big smirk on their face.
Confidence exudes from the very first song. Beginning with sounds of dogs barking and whimpering, Eric Sean Nally starts things off with the line, "There sure are a lot of dogs out tonight / Perhaps they can assist me in a song." And just like that, we're off on the ridiculously loopy trip that is Foxy Shazam's major label debut and third release to date. Nally has a remarkable range with his voice and we hear it on all 11 songs on this self-titled record. He sings with a ferocity, an urgency, and an insanity that isn't quite paralleled by anyone around today. We hear him belting out self-confessional lyrics ("Wanna-Be Angel"), soaring through fantastic hooks ("Count Me Out", "Unstoppable"), showing his soul influences ("Bye Bye Symphony", "The Only Way to My Heart..."), and simply doing the unorthodox ("Connect", "Killin' It"). Whatever he's doing, Foxy Shazam makes it work.
On "Wanna-Be Angel", clever verses lead into a gargantuan chorus, and it's the first sign that this album is produced to sound larger than life. Although some people might have trouble getting into music that is produced to sound so huge, those who can lend their ears to it will immensely enjoy an album filled with hook-laden anthems and no lack of spine-tingling vocal moments. The musicianship on Foxy Shazam shouldn't be left unmentioned either, as guitar licks line numbers like "Count Me Out" while Sky White's piano and Alex Nauth's horn parts throughout the record make for light-hearted and easy-to-listen-to melodies. The group displays an astounding amount of creativity on the album; if the aforementioned opener of "Intro - Bombs Away" wasn't wacky enough, listeners will experience the uniqueness again on "Connect." This track, my personal favorite, kicks off with a gospel-sung chorus which is backed by a beatbox rhythm. Gospel and beatboxing really shouldn't mix, but Foxy Shazam pulls it off gloriously. It's that swagger.
It's hard to say what Foxy Shazam have really done here. They play like some sort of fusion of Meat Loaf and Queen but they do it in a compact way that results in radio-friendly songs that also lend themselves to the population of music listeners that hate the radio. They aren't quite rock and roll but they aren't far from it, either. What I'll conclude with is this: Foxy Shazam have released the record of the year for hipsters who are too cool to listen to "rock" music, while still presenting a rock and roll presence among R&B, dance, and gospel influences. This album has the capacity to appeal to fans of almost any genre, and should definitely not be overlooked. A group with this much swagger commands your attention.