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Posted on June 27th, 2014 (10:00 am) by Alfred Lentzsch

Phox is a band from the odd-sounding town Baraboo, Wisconsin, somewhere close to Madison. Their self-titled, indie pop debut dabbles in baroque and chamber pop, folk and even some trip-hop. After having trouble finding happiness in the post high school world outside of Wisconsin, the six band members and old high school friends all moved into a house when returning home to record music. The clear center piece of the band is Monica Martin’s voice. It airily levitates through the tracks—a stylistic choice that sometimes works great, but that sometimes cannot quite carry the entire track. Phox’s broad instrumentation makes the record interesting and varied in the long run.

A lightly picked nylon string guitar arpeggio introduces the pretty track “1936.” Martin, along with some of the other backing vocalist members join in for an interesting quartet. Layers of instrumentation slowly converge on one another to create an incredibly full instrumental chamber sound. Clarinets and french horns pop up out of nowhere; take note of the trumpet solo on “Evil.” It seems like Phox were listening to quite a lot of St. Vincent and Bon Iver.

However, cutesy, chamber pop does require a lot of skill to be executed well without being too cheesy. Phox generally pulls it off at the expense of a few tracks that sound too circus-y and tawdry, especially the tracks with the overdone clarinet solos. But the extravagant instrumentation is more than necessary to cover up Martin’s ability to sing in a different style than her hyper thin voice. A voice that works—but not for twelve tracks.

Phox release an interesting debut album, taking themselves not too seriously at the same time. If you enjoy Martin’s vocal style and a lot of varied instrumentation you’ll love the album. It’s cute art pop that sounds refreshing, while not attempting to rewrite the books.

Track List:

  1. Calico Man
  2. Leisure
  3. Slow Motion
  4. 1936
  5. Evil
  6. Laura
  7. Kingfisher
  8. Shrinking Violets
  9. Satyr and the Faun
  10. Noble Heart
  11. Raspberry Seed
  12. In Due Time
Phox self titled
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

60 / 100
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