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Noxious Foxes

Legs

(Broth IRA; US: 5 May 2011; UK: import)

It’s tempting to say something about how Noxious Foxes is sly. This band’s brand of off-kilter avant-rock is certainly clever, the tight turns and crashing riffage brilliant and innovative. But this is also far too intricate and tough to pin down to hide behind easy clichés. Legs is a thundering, often troubling, but always infectious set of instrumental rock songs that jabs at you with a heady mix of atmospheric keys and slicing riffs laid over chaotic yet syncopated drum work. The duo, gruitarist Justin Talbott and drummer Richard Levengood, play off of each other perfectly, speeding though sonic squalls like “Doth Shalt Noth” and “Wherever Hugo, Guido” with all the intelligent interplay of math-rock, yet they bring a hot-blooded funk edge to these punky tunes as well. The two brilliantly create space for one another. Talbott will pare the riffs to a surgical palm-mute to let Levengood crash out, while Levengood returns the favor with lean beats under Talbott’s most untethered playing. For all its sharp turns and surprises, Legs is strikingly propulsive. Its oddity occasionally slips into excess—“Bowflexcellent” slips from off-kilter into off course somewhere in its six minutes—but mostly what’s so striking about the chaos is the control with which the duo wields it. Legs is a uniquely great rock record, one that contains as much technical precision as it has personality, and if you can hang with the swings, you’re in for a hell of a ride.

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Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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