The Foxgloves remind me of that poem that starts 'all the new thinking is about loss; in that, it resembles all the old thinking'. They also remind me of the Smiths; of grey skies; of falling rain; of London -especially the green bits; finally, of gloomy evenings.
Responsible for that are a series of things, of which the time and place I was given my first (and only, for that matter) Foxgloves tape is not the least important: it was about this time last year (Early autumn, that is) on a trip to England. I listened to it extensively on the flight home, a strange affair consisting mostly of layover which I spent riding tatty buses through the suburbs of Prague. It was an evening born to define the word 'gloomy' and I was sad with the sadness of having left somewhere you don't belong to go somewhere else you don't belong either, and anyway, that's where I fell in love with.
The music was the perfect soundtrack to it all, just perfect: the sadness, the feeling that everything is always slipping away and the belief that there is poetry in this.
The tape spent the following months in my tape player - partly because I forgot to take it out and partly because I liked it so much - where it got played over and over until the tracklist was lost, and, eventually, the tape taped over too, thus disappearing from my life. Naturally after this said tape acquired the status of a legend in my head and I was very excited to hear that Foxyboy had released an Ep by the Foxgloves.
"Lives you didn't lead" sounds a lot like the Smiths - not only the actual cover ('I know very well how I got my name') but the rest of it, too - but so what? It does so impressively well after all. And it also sounds like Lloyd Cole, too. Apart from that, it is what one could call guitar-based folk pop (though, as these things go, one could call it several other names, too). Naturally, it is dreamy, poignant and charming - very charming: from the evocative title to the haunting opening lines ("I dreamt that love was a crime/ and still I couldn't get arrested") to autumn hues of the closing track ("G.U" - if you know what this means, please let me know) it has done nothing but charm me.
It is a record that revolves around the idea that someone is always losing something: that for every choice you make there are more you turn down. I'm not sure if they mean to mourn the lives you didn't lead, pine for their potential better-ness or just make every day life more interesting by pointing out its complexity, but whatever it is, here it's done in a very poetic way and with a life-affirming sadness. The Foxgloves seem to be the sort of people who believe that poetry can save your life, if not the world and that's quite enough to make me love them.
'Teenager' is the first single released from Camera Obscura's magnificent 'Underachievers, Please Try Harder'. Whilst it isn't the best track on that album, that merely shows how good the album is, because this really is very fine indeed.
Has indie-western already been invented? It isn't the same as alt.country - it's as far from that as Teenage Fanclub are from thrash metal - but if you shut your eyes you can imagine the Magnificent Seven and their horses not all that far away. Accompanying this, in a move that should be deeply incongruous but on this occasion seems utterly natural, you have melodic chimes and Tracyanne Campbell's bitter-sweet vocals. The lyrics are an attempt to show the error of someone's ways, perhaps her own..
'You're not a teenager/ So don't act like one'
Sweetly, gently she tells us oh for god's sake get over the girl, she's only going to hurt you, whilst somewhere in the West the cowboys gallop off into the sunset.
'I don't want to see you' is more traditional Camera Obscura territory, but none the worse for it. Tracyanne and a piano, a quiet, sad melody accompanying her reflections, understated yet touching, the vocals talk of laundromats and getting operations on the national health service...and sexual frustration...everything you have (or will) come to know and love about this band.
Finally, 'Footloose and Fancy Free' floats through its revelations of loss with a lilting country guitar and a shimmering organ. Not quite as lovely as the other two tracks, but not at all bad, it drifts away in the direction that 'teenager' cantered in, leaving you wanting to hear more.
You should buy this.