Foxes – Glorious
Louisa Rose Allen arrives with her debut album and, though calling it a glorious piece of music might be an overstatement, it’s a fun, perky pop package, masking some quite downbeat themes and lyrics, supported by a handful of radio friendly songs that showcase her ear for a tune – even if she doesn’t quite have the unique selling point that will lift her above the typical note-hitting female singers.
First track ‘Talking To Ghosts’ is s sombre but effective album opener. It’s eerie opening leading into a keyboard-riff focused mid-tempo ode to a departed person that mixes its emotions together with a Eurovision-friendly sound. It’s followed by lead single ‘Youth‘, which was a song that actually passed me by when it was released, but here it stands high with its building intro and lyrical hook around you losing grip on the dreams of youth, which sounds like a depressing subject to turn into an electronic pop-dance number but it works. Built around that memorable chorus it might not have the power and poppiness of her later singles but it’s a credible number that will resonate with her target audience and perhaps outside of that too.
Most recent single ‘Holding Onto Heaven‘ follows and it’s a definite grower of a track, escalating from the slow start over the allusion of a mobile phone ringing, growing in gusto to an all-pop chorus that will have you singing along in no time. Throw in a break down two minutes in that helps continue the momentum, this is one of the cornerstones of the album and a solid pop package.
Fourth track ‘White Coats’ once more owes a lot to the ear of the producer with the effects of the verses more interesting than the words themselves, though the chorus is much better and is a solid enough album track and it builds up to a powerful final act. Second single – and the track that introduced me to Foxes – follows. ‘Let Go For Tonight‘, still my favourite song on the album, mixes the electronic style of a modern Pet Shop Boys with the gusto of a Pixie Lott song, with a very club and radio friendly chorus that is catchy from the go, even if it shares a lot of it’s beats and structures with her most recent single.
‘Night Glo’ kicks off with some birdsong and feels like Foxes’ tribute to Marina and the Diamonds. Slower in pace and slow to get going, it never quite hits a momentum that will bring you back into the track, becoming a likely candidate for the skip button. It’s back to pop normality though for the driving ‘Night Owls, Early Birds’ which bursts into a quick-witted chorus that should cement track seven as the album’s next single. The verses don’t quite have the same guts, though they improve as the song gets into its middle-section, but there’s enough in the high points to keep you coming back.
Onto the album’s title track, and ‘Glorious’ proves to be another more average number on the piece but is well paced amongst the poppier numbers and does kick up the momentum a little as it progresses. Track nine – ‘Echo’ – has echoes of ‘Night Owls, Early Birds’ with its chorus being far more memorable than its verses and proves to be a solid enough album entry.
Penultimate number ‘Shaking Heads’ returns to the earlier theme of youth, this time in relation to the folly of it. A much slower number, it has enough lyrical intrigue to hold your attention but once more continues to show Foxes is at her best when she focuses on the more poppy, upbeat numbers. Album closer ‘Count the Saints’ may prove to be the exception to this rule as this feels like the one ballad on the record that fully works, the focus on instrumentation lending it a sombre feel which suits the lyrical subject matter, and you can get away with a more introspective feeling at this point, the multi-layering of vocals adding a certain power to the lyrical hooks of ‘Love isn’t always fair’ and the title. A grand closure to an album that has its shares of highs and lows.
If you’ve invested in the deluxe edition you also get five bonus tracks. The first is a live version of her collaboration with Zedd, stripping ‘Clarity’ back of all its club trappings to turn it into a far more emotive, credible number and far better than the original, the simple production values showcasing her vocals with no distractions. ‘Beauty Queen’ is a substantial pop number with another Marina and the Diamonds feel and a catchy chorus; whilst the nursery rhyme styling of ‘Home’ descends into a sombre, pondering number. ‘In Her Arms’ is another serviceable number but again one that feels like it’s at home on a bonus disc, and ‘The Unknown’ wraps up the bonus package in a more satisfying way, adding a little extra flavour to an OK selection of extra songs.
Better on the faster, more pop-focussed numbers, Foxes’ debut album is a mixed bag, lifted up by its solid tracks, most of which have already been released as singles. A fun enough album in its entirety but lacking the focus in some tracks to make it a must-buy. If her next album concentrates on the upbeat side of her style it will be a solid follow-up, for now it just feels like she has a promising talent.