Artist: Foreign Born
Label: Secretly Canadian
Due Out: June 23rd
Ever get a music tip from a friend that, no matter how much you try to thank them, it can never really do justice to the gift they've passed your way? That's borderline where I'm at with Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear. No, we're not actually friends, I just follow him on Twitter, but without his shout-out to Foreign Born back in February, there's almost no way I ever would have happened upon them. Mixing energetic folk rock with some popular indie rock sensibilities, the band created a fantastic effort with 2007's release of On the Wing Now. As good as it may be though, it pales in comparison to their latest work of art, Person to Person, which builds on those blocks set a few years back, and the results are an intelligent, and interesting flow of consciousness. Before continuing, I'd just like to thank Droste one more time. Really, for these guys, and of course, Veckatimest too.
"Blood Oranges" begins quickly with a fast-paced cadence and almost island-sounding riff. It really provides a nice introduction for those unaware of the band and its sound. The vocals tend to keep themselves in one range, but are very active, and trust me, it works out quite well in this instance. "That Old Sun" starts immediately afterward, as a bit of a change of pace, slowing it up a bit from the previous song. Still, even with the tempo change, you're taking in a similar amount of energy, and are reeled in by the very active guitar part. It almost reminds me of some of The Strokes work, but not enough to draw a direct comparison. "Vacationing People" kicks in next, speeding us up again to a quick run. Many fans may be familiar with the track, as the band released it to the public over a month ago to preview. The song is one of the best the record has at truly personifying the essence of Person to Person, so I'd say it was a good call making it everyone's first opinion.
"Winter Games" continues at a fast pace, bringing in a bit of a western feel as well during this very danceable, bouncy track that is almost guaranteed to get some airplay this summer, ironically. It's almost as if they're playing the drum part on pots and pans, or garbage cans in a back alley, which is, I guess, what makes this one memorable and likable too. No sooner is that over though, than you're caught by surprise on "Early Warnings" employs tropical drums, shakers, and some real beach-y guitar work to give us our second undeniably "beach-worthy" song on the album. Person to Person is at its best when the band's firing on all cylinders and pushing the tempo. This song has you thinking about an exciting vacation in the Bahamas from the get-go, and for me, for some reason, toucans and parakeets. Sadly, the image breaks, however, at the start of "Can't Keep Time"- a track that had me thinking Wolf Parade's "Shine A Light" throughout. There's tons of sound here, all steaming down the tracks at break-neck speed, but still quite easy and honestly enjoyable to take in as its careening off the walls.
And then "Lion's Share" finally allows for us to take a breath. Toned down, but still humming along, it does a great job of showing the real range of energy levels the band can maintain at a high level. Next, "It Grew On You" employs the first open use of electronics on the album, before heading towards a cowboy-esque vibe. The song, with its galloping percussion part in the background, picks up speed, and parts, as it runs. Its use of piano is also an excellent touch, as it provides for a more audible background part, and gives a different dimension to the track than the others may possess. Carrying on with the western theme, "See Us Home" makes it fairly obvious that we're headed toward the end. A ballad, of sorts, it adds a conservative string arrangement that provides some nice sunset imagery. Lastly, we have "Wait in This Chair". It's relaxed, and fairly stripped-down in comparison to the rest of the album, but is also very straight forward. It fades us out effectively, and easily. We're pleased with what we've listened to. It feels complete, but we're probably likely to just hit play all over again.
I've enjoyed quite a few records this year, but only a few have really made me sit back and admire what I'd just experienced. Foreign Born does not create a wall of sound, nor another world with Person to Person. There's nothing that you could jump to consider "ground-breaking" either. It's just good music. Not too emotional, never with too much intensity, and full of life, the entire album sends a comfortable message of ease, even with its frequent moments of very high energy. If you don't trust me, maybe you'll trust Droste. Either way, I'd say that anyone who's a fan of some good indie rock or folk could find themselves listening to this one on repeat. Similarities include the aforementioned Grizzly Bear, Annuals and Cold War Kids.
Best Track: "Early Warnings"