The Phoenix Foundation - Give Up Your Dreams

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:5 Release Date:2015-08-12

New Zealand’s The Phoenix Foundation’s new album, Give Up Your Dreams, had its moments, but never quite pulled me in. Adjectives like atmospheric, psychedelic, and dreamy came up frequently as I listened over and over, trying to get comfortable and settle into the vibe. Unfortunately, I never did, but that’s not to say you might not find it quite pleasant.

Some highlights for me were the opening tracks, 'Mountain' and 'Bob Lennon John Dylan', the former being one of the more heavier promoted tracks (along with the title song, both not truly representative of the bulk of the material), and the latter being the most driving song on the album, with a sweet solo that recalled Jeff Beck. Both songs (and much of the whole album) remind me of 90s era Australian group The Church, another group that waffled between up tempo psychedelic rock and dreamy, stoned pop. There’s also a good dose of Peter Gabriel.

After those two, things took a more old passive turn, starting with what might be the most representative song on the album, “Playing Dead,” with its chanting, echo-laden vocals and atmospheric accompaniment. “Prawn,” “Jason,” “Celestial Bodies,” “Silent Orb,” and “Sunbed” were all too spacy and nap inducing to me, giving the appearance that the band embraces the lack of urgency that underscores the album.

The title track is one of the three best and most memorable songs on the cd. While still possessing the reverb-rich vocals and jangly-pop sound, “GUYD” has more forward lyrics and a catchy chorus. For my taste, this is the best of the band’s strengths and seems to have a more fundamental concept of how to blend pop accessibility with the band’s spirit and hardcore fan base. Granted, that may not be the goal, but that’s what I’d like to hear more of.

“Myth” closes out the album with more of the same save an almost hip-hop handclap and bass beat interlude that had me squinting through the bong smoke.

Overall verdict: Give Up Your Dreams is rich in psychedelic, dreamy, pop that lacks the cajones I prefer but might be right up your Haight-Asbury.

 

 

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