ARTIST: BLACK FOXXES
TITLE: BLACK FOXXES
LABEL: SPINEFARM RECORDS
WORDS: JACK MOBLEY
Once heralded as one of the brightest sparks to emerge from the UK, Black Foxxes, more specifically lead singer/songwriter Mark Holley, have had a somewhat turbulent two years since the release of they’re second album Reidi. The rhythm section bid farewell to the band but Holley opted to continue and pour his heart into the project returning with another effort, an effort that has even more force behind it in the form of the latest self-titled album. The third record is not lacking any intent or purpose but has an even more expansive feel, building on what I’m Not Well initially laid down in 2016, with a 50 minute runtime in the form of nine breath-taking songs. Retaining the grittiness that explodes with raw emotion that has been a trademark of Holley. Black Foxxes acts a rebirth of the band, Holley driving his creative ideas from start-to-finish with no compromise and because of that, the authenticity is as real as the hype once was and still should be.
“Black Foxxes acts a rebirth of the band, Holley driving his creative ideas from start-to-finish with no compromise and because of that, the authenticity is as real as the hype once was and still should be.“
Starting with the aptly named ‘I Am’, is an uncompromising song that greets with a familiar sound but charges up and halts to a stop. Removing any preconceptions about what this album might be with no obvious structure, just an outpouring of emotion into the music and overall aesthetic. Epic eight-minute long, ‘Badlands’ introduces the new rhythm section as the equally straightforward and head-bobbing bluesy bassline as spitting vocal cuts through with power. Exploring elements of birt-pop in the bridge harks back to the spacious anthems of the likes of Feeder but the grittiness of Thursday especially when Mark shouts the refrain, ‘Contain me, contort me, I have a gun’.
Moving from projecting outwards to reflecting inwards, ‘Drug Holiday’ downplays the explosiveness of guitars in favour of Mark’s ability to entice with his wobbling vocal lines. ‘My Skin’ refers to Holley’s ongoing struggle with Crohn’s disease in such a way that it harks back to the debut record with the high-end ‘woo’s’ whilst the track is drenched in delay reverb, making the vibe that much more expansive. The following songs, ‘Panic’ and ‘Swim’ seek to calm the vast seas, opting for a more insular approach to connect the listener that much more before heading to the final tracks.
“Three minute long singles don’t make a band but a work of art does, an aesthetic, a concept actualised and that is the new Black Foxxes record.“
‘Jungle Skies’ looks to introduce us to the crescendo as the manic ebb and flow of ‘Pacific’ bounces between the instruments being quiet and subtle with Holley’s vocal guides through and bursts into life during the energetic moments. The longest track is saved for last, ‘The Diving Bell’, which opens with an indie vibe that has not been on the record before this moment and is a welcome change of pace. The spacy backing and guitar plays off the honest yet dark lyrics.
Holley’s unwilling drive to not compromise has allowed the songs to breathe and exist in their own space. Some of Black Foxxes finest moments as a band feature big sections of the same song just repeating or experimenting, if you have seen them live you will understand. ‘River’ from the first album is one of the perfect examples of this but this album builds on that, letting those types of songs to fill themselves out even more.The type of songs that they leave their guitars after a set while the guitars continue to feedback and the cymbals have yet to stop vibrating, it feels Mark Holley and co. are looking to create these moments and they have succeeded. Three minute long singles don’t make a band but a work of art does, an aesthetic, a concept actualised and that is the new Black Foxxes record.