Foxygen are weird.
Forget the name, all band names are weird. It’s their sound. I just can’t seem to put my finger on it. And the way I’ve always processed new music is by comparing it to something I’ve previously heard. But sometimes I’ll hear a song, enjoy it, and think to myself, “Now why the hell did I like that song?” This is one of those songs.
“Coulda Been My Love” sounds like a studio outtake on the B-side of a later Beatles album. Now hear me out before you poop your Pampers, because there’s enough distance and qualifiers between a proper Beatles album and my previous sentence.
The song begins with a haunting piano playing in an ill-lit basement. Immediately the listener is pulled through the doorway and down the staircase by duet vocals just as tortured as that lonely piano. What I’m getting at is that Foxygen sound like they’ve got a case of the bummers in “Coulda Been My Love.”
The drums come in soon after with a simple rhythm that provides a backbone to the pain. Complementary vocals echo alongside the chorus to add depth and harmony to otherwise-simple lyrics.
So back to The Beatles. “Coulda Been My Love” sounds and feels like a “White Album” outtake. It’s like they invited Paul McCartney to sing their song on Rock Band (and then he decided to stay the night because mom bought a bunch of Totino’s pizzas for everyone). I am a bit biased though, as I spent a lot of last year listening to Foxygen’s “Take The Kids Off Broadway,” a 7-song album that twists and swirls its way through the late 1960s.
The song leaves its impression on the listener right around the 1:30 mark. We get a little wail from the Sam France (the lead vocalist I think?) that leads into a brilliant, satisfying progression that reaches its apex at 2:15 and the song coasts the rest of the way home.
“Coulda Been My Love” is a song that’s grown on me by a group that’s grown on me. Foxygen’s sound is elusive (and often eclectic), which makes it difficult to easily label them. They feel like a group that’s still figuring out their sound, which makes me excited to see where they’re heading.