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John Foxx & Louis Gordon - From Trash (Released on Metamatic Records, 2006)

 

ImageThe erstwhile frontman of Ultravox! and his musical partner Louis Gordon go on where they left off with Crash And Burn (2003).

 

Please note that this is not necessarily a bad thing. But since Foxx returned to the pop music scene with Shifting City (meanwhile having an alternative career by releasing ambient albums, e.g. on Tiny Colour Movies, also released this year) in 1995, not much has changed.

 

After the somehow unsatisfying Live From A Room (As Big As A City), this is a full-fledged studio-album in ever sense of the word. You can hear it too: Foxx is willing to take more risks when it comes to recording his vocals and harmonies.

 

The album starts off with its title track, From Trash. Although the lyrics may seem sub-par in the first verse, one gets the feeling that the verse is about overthrowing a government. Is Foxx hinting at a left-wing majority beating a right-wing minority? The poor overthrowing the rich? Anyway, the song gets a serious boost from its pounding beats and interweaving vocals, such that one wonders how this song will go down live!

 

Freeze Frame? I have no idea what it's about, I can only guess. And my guess is that the third person ("he") referred to in the song is a cyborg and/or a wanted man ("freeze frame video face/ from the midnight news"). Foxx trademark: numerous references to fashion items: "wearing my shoes", "shoe-shine boys" and "passport suit" (hm, where can I get me one of those?).

 

Your Kisses Burn v2: yes, it's a remake of a song that Foxx recorded with Nation 12 (the album, Electrofear, was finally released last year). Not a radical re-arrangement, perhaps more fitted towards playing live? When it comes to pop hooks, it's definitely one of the strongest tracks on the album. But I have to wonder how lyrics such as "I just love to taste your lipstick / because it's salty as a tear" and "my, how your kisses burn"?

 

Another You is a wonderful but sadly romantic song from Foxx that, by using a sparse beat, jumping bassline, simple (but effective) lyrics and a soft vocal, achieves maximum effect. You'd have to have a heart of stone not to be touched by its sentiment. But don't worry, it probably won't be covered by Celine Dion anytime soon.

 

Impossible is a track with a cool drum rhythm and is striking because of its distorted vocals in the chorus, pushed to the background. The lyrics seem to be about a person with a rich imagination (Foxx himself maybe? heh).

 

The short Never Let Me Go seems a poem set to music. As it's quoted in the CD booklet, it could be quote... knowing Foxx, it could be from an old movie.

 

The title of A Room As Big As A City was basically used for the 'live' album that was released earlier this year. It's a song that stands out by using a sparse beat and a serene keyboard sound. Lyrically it's a bit repetitive but that does not really damage the track. The lyrics portray an apartment located miles above the surface: part of a floating city, or a construction as high as the tower of Babel?

 

A Million Cars is the longest track on the album and easily one of the more memorable. There seems to be multiple references to other songs on this album, almost thus making it a concept album; but a concept of what? I am unsure. There's a reference to "a million cars" in the song Impossible, the words "from trash" appear in this song, and there's the lyric "and ghosts/ so close" which seems to me a nod to the last song on the album.
What to make of the chorus that goes "A million cars / a million stars / ten thousand ways/ we can go from here"? Is Foxx hinting a future where space travel is done by car, perhaps? (It isn't such a stretch: Cybotron's Cosmic Cars, the Winnebago in the movie Spaceballs haha!) But Foxx seems rather sincere with this song, as if he's longing to get away, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

 

Although it may only be a fragment of the song, these are the lines of Friendly Fire that I'm most intrigued by: "You just keep the peace / and you catch the flak / And if you don't sing in the government choir / and you forget why you got hired / You can warm your hands on the Friendly Fire". It's interesting to note that the word 'government' is mentioned yet again (see From Trash).

 

And the award for The Best Song Title of the album goes to: its closing statement, The One Who Walks Through You. Its title is a bit creepy, but so is the song, yet Foxx' vocals make you feel comfortable, at ease nonetheless. If you imagine that you have not read the song's title, Foxx will slowly he unfurls the song's theme to you. But many of Foxx' lyrics have been about a presence almost there. This time, though, like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the ghost seems to (temporarily?) step inside a human body, as Foxx sings "and someone/ seems to occupy you". As on many of Foxx' albums, one of the most interesting tracks is saved for the end.

 

All in all: a rewarding album that grows on you with several spins, not better or worse than any of the other studio albums Foxx has released in the last decade or so. It will be interesting to see/hear how these songs will stand up live. But it seems that Foxx and Gordon have chosen to stick to a certain sound, a sound that harks back to the days of Foxx' first solo album, Metamatic (1980). Although that's no bad thing (and probably what his fans want), one wonders what he could achieve when working with a (co-)producer who could bring a fresh perspective to his music.

 

Review by Robert van Gameren, 2006

 
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