There is an undeniable energy, and beauty around the work of Black Foxxes – a unique intensity that blurs the line between accessible indie, noise rock and alt-rock.
From the introspective vitriol of opener ‘I Am’, we are treated to the band in full-force, intensely self-aware and ready to soundtrack their own new journey in 2020, and help many others to do the same – sonically ferocious, and vibrant, it’s a perfect powerhouse opener.
‘Badlands’ strikes hard in new way – like a hyper Robert Smith, Mark Holley frivolously tracks his own mental health, and opens up to the world, to resounding effect. This is a track that millions can relate to, and more importantly, find solace in. ‘Drug Holiday’ is hypnotic in its slow, brooding Cobain-esque delivery, while ‘My Skin’ drones and sways like early Jimmy Eat World, with a fearless approach at the core. Meanwhile, ‘Panic’ is a schizophrenic dark-pop interlude that leads nicely into ‘Swim’ that channels early Brand New and Radiohead in equal parts without any hint of pomp or arrogance. Follow-ups ‘Jungle Skies’ and ‘Pacific’ by contrast, are the most serene works on the album, and again serve to remind of Foxxes’ folk and blues influences echoing the likes of Pavement. ‘The Diving Bell’ finishes things off nicely, mixing the frenetic energy of the first few tracks, with the more spaced-out, shoegazy vibes of the last. On this one, that lovely bluesy sax work comes back clashes nicely with excellent bass lines and solid guitar work for a fine, seductive closer.
Indeed, what strikes most with Black Foxxes here is the raw honesty which has been with them since the beginning, and it’s brilliant to listen to. While every track here has elements of sonic beauty, the themes are challenging and emotive – Holley talks us through his own struggles – he dissects them, and we are invited to look at our own in return. It’s rare to find a band that will reflect so openly about flaws, and the ugly side of our human condition, and emphatically champion discussion around said themes. This self-titled offering is Black Foxxes heaviest and most visceral to-date, and it may well be our favourite album of 2020.
Words: Dom Smith