Foxy Shazam produces a bombastic rock album
Who does Eric Nally think he is? On the cover of the aptly named "Welcome to the Church of Rock and Roll" he looks like some guy you'd find singing in a David Bowie cover band at your local bowling alley.
Way back in 2010, when Nally's band, Foxy Shazam, hit the mainstream with their self-titled album, I thought Nally was a supercilious fraud; a guy that has all the bravado of a rock ‘n roll icon but none of the talent or fame.
My opinion changed when I listened to "...Church of Rock and Roll," which may be the most fun, eccentric and bombastic rock record I've heard in a long time.
Right off the bat it's apparent that this is Nally's show. On the opening track, while belching out an impressive falsetto that should have Freddie Mercury licking his lips in his grave, he plays an angry yet optimistic preacher screaming at his witnesses, "You're all suckers, a flock of sheep / I'll be your shepherd, follow me." Foxy Shazam's first single "I Like it," is a hilarious, raw Led Zeppelin-esque ode to Nally's love for black women's aesthetics. He proclaims, "That's the biggest black ass I've ever seen, and I like it a lot."
As a whole, the record is reminiscent of Queen's glittery pop sensibility and The Darkness's playfulness, which make sense given that Justin Hawkins, the lead singer of The Darkness, produced "Welcome to the Church of Rock and Roll." "Holy Touch" and "Last Chance at Love" in particular explode with energy and big choruses that will be stuck in your head for days.
"Forever Together" and "The Streets" hit visceral chords. In the former Nally seems to be talking to his son about being away on tour and having to cope with the challenges of living out his dream. It's the slowest song on the album but it never becomes stale or boring, thanks to Nally's gift for a memorable melody. "The Streets" veers close to Lady Gaga territory but takes a turn with a Springsteen-inspired bridge where Nally, accompanied by a piano, sings about family issues. In "I Wanna Be Yours" and "Wasted Feelings" Foxy Shazam are at their simplest form. The guitar lines flow through the entire songs while staying true to the album's eccentric and playful tone.
If I had to psychoanalyze them I'd say that Foxy Shazam seems to be holding back their creativity for fear of straying from the aesthetics of the classic rock era of the 1970's. Regardless, they have assembled eleven songs that fit together better and create a cohesiveness that was missing from prior Foxy Shazam albums. "Welcome to the Church of Rock and Roll" might be the album that garners them mainstream attention – and turns Nally into the rock god he clearly wants to be.
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