If you think your ears have heard all there is to hear in pop music and your tired eyes have seen everything there is to see, then you probably haven't seen or heard the fabulous Moxy Früvous. But then, as luck would have it, their excellent new Don Dixon-produced album, Thornhill, an exciting pure-pop creation for this successful and talented quartet, is in your hands just waiting to be heard.
Hailing from Toronto, Moxy Früvous - Mike Ford on vocals, guitars; Murray Foster on vocals, bass; Jian Ghomeshi on vocals, drums; and Dave Matheson on vocals, accordion, banjos, and guitar, - began at the dawn of the decade as buskers, a group of pals performing impromptu street shows almost entirely a cappella. In learning to engage the attention of self-absorbed city folk the band became quite adept at street-level theatricality, humorous improvisation and singing in pristine four-part harmony. Over the course of five albums, including an indie cassette debut which went gold in Canada, the band has fine-tuned that street experience, that pop with a touch of vaudeville approach, with wry humor, smart lyrics, and a strong social consciousness.
If fresh, well-constructed, acoustic-based pop somewhere between the Beatles, Squeeze and XTC means anything to those fans, which we know it does, then Thornhill should be the breakthrough Moxy Früvous recording that Früheads have long deserved. Titled after the neighborhood around which the band members came of age, Thornhill takes its listeners on a trip through growing up, peering back through the looking glass at the themes of teenage suburbia. But more than a concept album, Thornhill is also gorgeous a collection of pop songs - sweet, stripped down pop that'll steal your heart if you give it the chance.
From the Merseybeat pop opener "Half As Much," and the pleasantly McCartney-esque "Sad Girl," to the warm melodicism of "I Will Hold On," the subtlely funky "Earthquakes," and the reverby spy/surf of "Splatter Splatter," Thornhill touches on a prismatic array of pop hues without losing focus or clarity. On past efforts, like their 1994 major label debut Bargainville and the diverse You Will Go To The Moon from 1997, Moxy Früvous walked the precarious line between producing a cohesive pop album and one that retains Früvous' unorthodox eclecticism and their zany stage persona. Thornhill tosses that grab-bag approach aside for an album of pure pop thrills, minus the silliness; its no-filler, satin-smooth cohesion is a triumph for a band that has much to offer.
"American fans buy us as a project, as a whole band, not one song, not one image. That makes a huge difference. The people we're attracting get what we do and they're in it for the long haul. As a performer, it's more satisfying to have those kinds of fans." In the end, it's Moxy Früvous' deeply held belief that sincere entertainment rules over all. "We hold the notion of entertaining our audience dearly," says Ghomeshi. "You just gotta give 'em a good show." Whether that means on record or in concert, the band delivers, night after night, spin after spin.
For all the info you could ever want on Moxy Fruvous go to their official web site.
Album available August 10th!