Like A Fox
When Jay Laughlin sings "Happiness is ... " to start Like a Fox's new Where's My Golden Arm?, we half-expect him to finish with "a warm gun." But he avoids the Beatles nod, and the lazy strum of "A Feeling That Launched a Thousand Wars" soon blossoms into a kaleidoscopic jam sporting a crunchy guitar solo and ultra-hazy keyboards. It then wanders pleasantly and slowly into oblivion, setting up a sharp contrast with the ropey opening of "Internal/External," a propulsive rocker riding insistent drums into another wavering interlude that in turn slips into a sleepy chorus.
Just by those two songs, it's clear Like A Foxpack a lot of mood shifts. Their second album continues that way, spiking poppy sentiments with cosmic effects in a manner recalling the Flaming Lips and the Mercury Rev. Engineer/guitarist Dave Grubb is to thank for the buttery backdrop, though keyboardist/guitarist Jeff Scioli does his part and bassist Brian Wilkinson and drummer Pete Girgenti provide an organic undercurrent.
Like a Fox succeeds Lenola, Laughlin and Grubb's contribution to last decade's so-called "Psychedelphia" scene. That band released four albums, a double album and numerous singles and EPs, all of which paired Laughlin's songwriting with that of Sean Byrne, who now mines melancholy folk as the Twin Atlas. Lenola were darker and dirtier than Like a Fox, especially in the early days, but the core of Laughlin's squeaky singing and Grubb's surreal sheen has been very much continued.
Older and more entrenched in their personal lives, Like a Fox won't be touring the way Lenola did. But considering they've signed with the tasteful local label Transit of Venus--complete with national distribution--and with the London imprint Pronoia in the U.K., this Arm may wind up with a longer reach than any of its predecessors.