Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sign Of The Fox -- For Anybody Else (2008)

Sign Of The Fox -- For Anybody Else (The Sound Of Sounds)

This veteran L.A. band plays a laid back brand of rock that sounds like it could have been recorded on the back porch. Let me be clear here -- "back porch" often implies a blues orientation, and that’s not the case. And "laid back" might connote some sort of soft rock. And that’s not the case, either.

This is just relaxed, yet it’s still enthusiastic. This sounds like some punky vets who are having a good time, playing songs about love and love lost, among other things. The result of this approach is that the album kind of snuck up on me.

It started with the penultimate cut on the disc, "World Shakin’ Girl". The song is based on melody that probably goes back to the heyday of Merseybeat, played at a slightly slower and heavier tempo. This is backed up by a heavy and greasy guitar part. Lead singer Jack Polick is characteristically enthusiastic as he sings about the gal who changed his world. This song has a shaggy dog appeal to it that typifies what these guys are about.

Soon thereafter, I got into "Magnetico". This song has a beefy guitar line that is Latin inflected, with the Latin character sifted out. The song contrasts this catchy guitar part with a piledriver chorus. This is basic build tension and release songwriting, that works pretty well. But my favorite part of the song is the instrumental break where these Foxes cut loose.

Although these two songs first hit me, the song that has hit me the hardest is "Loosen Up". This tune verges on power ballad territory, but it has enough rock attitude and a melody that harkens back to classic late ‘50s and early ‘60s rock and roll that keep it from being cheesy. Everyone from Cheap Trick to Splitsville to E’Nuff Z’Nuff, just to name a few, has done a song in this territory. And there are a couple of twists here to keep this from being a pro forma genre exercise. Moreover, this is the most passionate performance on the whole album.

It took me a bit longer to appreciate the quieter side of the band. There is a lot to like when Sign Of The Fox dials it down a bit. "Answer" is a loping mid-tempo song with some reggae inflected guitar. On "The No Talk Tango", the melody reeks of desperation. Polick isn’t the rangiest vocalist and that works to his advantage on this track, as the strain on his voice really sells the sadness of the song.

And the album closer, "Close to Home", has one of those melodies that sounds like it has been around forever. It probably has, but not precisely in the form it takes here. It’s a sweet song, and a swell conclusion.

This is a nice, but not great, album. If there were a few more killers like "Loosen Up", it would really be something. But I certainly enjoyed it.

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