Music

Foxes: All I Need

All I Need does not aim to make Foxes stand out amidst an overcrowded pop scene, but it still guarantees some of the pop singles this year will see.


Foxes

All I Need

Label: Sony
US Release Date: 2016-02-05
UK Release Date: 2016-02-05
Amazon
iTunes

Call this either a blessing or a curse, but no one sounds like Louisa Allen, the musician better known as Foxes, in this current pop music landscape. In this state of affairs, there’s no guarantee this particular feat can be seen as leverage. Having gained widespread recognition after a very successful hit featuring Zedd, the now infamous “Clarity”, Foxes’ 2014 debut Glorious aimed at perfection, perhaps to no avail. The songs sounded like the products of a very particular time capsule – the aughts.

The tracks off Glorious are extremely polished, candid even. They're anthems, songs representative of youth as an ideal. “Don’t tell me our youth is running out”, she used to say. In a way, her work has always been evocative of that ideal that permeated so much of the pop produced during the last decade; Perfect Pop, that is. Which is to say Foxes has always made sure, even from the beginning, that her sound was already a complete idea. No major adaptations needed to be done along the way. Been there, done that: that seems to be her motto.

So it’s fitting that All I Need, Foxes’ new album, emerges without bringing any significant changes to her sonic palette. Yet, it sounds, in many ways, like a much needed refinement of her previous work. In order to adjust to the fact that all major label pop albums are done this way nowadays, no major themes prevail on the aptly titled All I Need. This is a record which relishes on youth and pure pop songcraft, catharsis and freedom, lust and sadness -- even twee. As the title seems to suggest, Foxes attempts to embrace the world. The songs sound huge enough to suggest the seriousness of such endeavor. The question pending an answer is if she actually goes all the way in order to pull that off.

All I Need covers some vast emotional territory. Above all, it's ambitious. This is why the fact that Foxes starting the album with an interlude can be seen as a disproportionate act. “Rise Up” is a bold statement and can make the listener wonder why it hasn’t become a song. Until, of course, the cellos and overall classic tone are revisited in its reprise. It’s a smart move that seems to encapsulate what All I Need is all about: for the first time, Foxes is preoccupied with making up an Album, in the increasingly meaningless sense of the word. A cohesive whole which, ultimately, is able to tell a story and convey a strong, consistent set of emotions. Even if that means, at the expense of a sense of ridicule, replaying a track by, of course, showcasing the whole song.

Still, Foxes has other things to be concerned about. Ever since her debut, critics have been eager to call her out on her apparent lack of very particular features. In truth, there's nothing that's supposed to make her stand out amidst this overcrowded pop scenario. As said, no one truly sounds like her, but there are still comparisons left to be drawn: her voice is unique, possessing a drug-like quality, yet the production is easy to be paired with the likes of Robyn and Tove Lo. She's sitting at a crossroads, until now unable to position herself against others more well-established names in the pop landscape.

That is why so much off All I Need relies heavily (and quite successfully) on Perfect Pop as an ideal: first single “Body Talk” is all about gimmickry. A “Teenage Dream” hook, heavy production, possessing a nostalgic sentiment even, the cover does not let me lie anyway.

Foxes’ most recurrent theme in here is still youth as an ideal to be pursued, and that, along the way, encompasses love as something to be conquered, to be finally overcome. “Amazing” is the best showcase of this: a track that aims at wanderlust and hits at twee, it is, in a way, Foxes at her best. Louisa’s ramblings about never giving up on youth actually sound more concrete now. This is, put better, twee for 20-somethings.

In the search for a more distinct voice amidst the crowd, All I Need offers some new territory. “If You Leave Me Now” is the album’s most emotionally resonant ballad and, at times, it defies said categorization. It's above all vague, and fails to portray Foxes’ persona as something unique, making her finally stand out. Yet, perhaps that’s what makes it resonates so much. Its effect is of a postcard message. It's aimed at no one in specific and is still able to resonate.

That is all to say that pop criticism has relied for too long on a suffocating search for identity, on crafting a given narrative for pop stars, having consequently forgotten about the more immediate aspects of the music itself. This may explain why Foxes has failed before to properly stand out amidst this overcrowded pop scenario; there was nothing before that could make her more unique to the eyes of people eager to insert her music into a given narrative. All I Need doesn't offer a solution, nor a way out.

In a way, it follows Glorious in its exact same terms. It features some of the most brilliant pop songs this year is going to see, mainly because they rely on passé (as of now) concepts such as songcraft and technique. It is, as some tend to be, an accomplished album. It does what it aims to do: good and personally revealing pop music. There's nothing wrong with wanting, and accomplishing as an artist, just that.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.

Books

Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.

Reviews

Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.

Music

Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.

Film

'Thor: Ragnorak' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.

Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Music

JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.

Music

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Music

Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.