Monday 29 February 2016

show me a better love: foxes' triumphant return

there's no greater feeling than finally falling in love with an artist who once underwhelmed you. with her sunny disposition (and really good hair), louisa rose allen, better known as foxes, is pretty impossible to dislike. but after releasing a couple of catchy singles from her first album, glorious, the rest of it just didn't live up to my (admittedly ridiculously high) expectations. trust me, i mean that in the best possible way. every fibre of my being wanted to like this album, but none of the songs were particularly memorable to me. 

there were some exceptions of course. her breakout single youth is one i revisit over and over again. sadly though, it was adventure club's remix that captured the public's attention with a staggering 16 million views, which is a shame because the original packs just as much of a punch as the dub step-inspired reworking. the beauty of foxes is her ability to merge powerful lyrics with party-ready beats. don't tell me our youth is running out, it's only just begun, she sings, perfectly capturing every 20-something's fears that life is simply passing them by. 

one gem i only recently discovered, despite her first album being released in 2014, is a track of the same name, gloriousand it truly is. lyrically and sonically, it starts out sombre. hollow ground and i keep on falling, breathing in but it's not enough, goes the first verse, before building to a spectacular chorus filled with optimism. don't give it up, don't give it up, it's glorious, she sings, and again in the bridge, i'll give it everything, i'll give it everything now. 

and she really does. there's no denying she has an incredible voice, but i just wanted more from foxes. enter the first single from her second album, body talk. a teaser for the video was posted on instagram in july last year, and instantly i wanted more. it's fabulously 80s inspired, from the synths to the slick production of the music video, with its neon-lit backdrop and choreography that should look dated but somehow doesn't. again, it starts out on a sour note. days like these, i just want you back, i can't breathe, i can't even speak. there's clearly a conflict going on. what do you do when you know someone just isn't right for you but you desperately want to make it work? you dance it out, of course. by the time the chorus hits, foxes has it all figured out. let your body talk, even when you feel so lost, spinning when the tears fall, you gotta just let it go. that 80s sound can also be heard on her collaboration with giorgio moroderwildstar, a slice of perfect, disco-ready pop that i'd actually forgotten about until i heard it playing in h&m today. 

another stand-out is better love, co-written with bastille frontman dan smith, whose vocals also feature on the track. i do my best to leave this pain, but here we are and we've learned nothing, goes the second verse. clearly feeling trapped, she knows this relationship is bad but can't seem to get out, both mentally and physically. these feet of mine won't let me march away, goes the pre-chorus. the chorus, however, is filled with hope, with its pounding drums and powerful refrain. show me a better love, she pleads, leaving us all wondering whether she actually finds it. 

if the rest of all i need is anything to go by, she seems to have succeeded. there's a sense of reflection, of realisation, that maybe, just maybe, the girl who wrote the lyrics to youth has grown up a bit and finally found herself. you cut me deep, it hurt to feel, it's taken time, but wounds they heal, she sings on scar. there's a sense of maturity, of coming to terms with, and accepting what happens, a crucial step in the healing process that comes with ending a relationship. now you're just a scar, a story i tell, such an ugly mark, but i wear it so well, she sings on the chorus, and i feel it, that relief of having left it all in the past. 

allen's smart song-writing is demonstrated on track 11, money, in which the girl she appears to be referring to is actually money personified. money can't love you, money can't hold you, money can't love you back, goes the chorus, a reminder to us all that it's what's inside that counts. the children's choir closing out the track is also a particularly nice touch. 

a track that's quite unlike any other from foxes is one of my favourites, wicked love. it has an almost relaxing feel to the chorus, only intensified by the harps in the background, evoking a florence + the machine kind of feel. the lyrics detail one of those so-good-it's-bad relationships, with foxes describing her lover like honey; you're no good for me, this ain't how it oughta be, but you'e like honey, i get stuck when you get sweet. 

bringing the feel-good factor is amazing, the third single to be released from all i need. clearly overcome with emotion, foxes perfectly captures the exhilaration that comes with being around someone you really like. see i got a wild heart and i can't control it, it keeps on letting me down, she sings on the pre-chorus. i know with you, tonight could be amazing, goes the chorus, and i imagine her getting ready for a date, hand shaking slightly as she puts on her lipstick. i'm scared to death, still i stood here waiting, and i see her arriving at the bar, nervously smoothing out the creases in her dress. by the bridge, it's clear she's becoming more comfortable, her confidence building. should be running away tonight, should be finding a place to hide, but i'm starting to feel alive. they start to dance, and she goes in for the first kiss, any inhibitions now long gone, though that might be because of the wine. the video however, shows a completely different story, giving these lyrics multiple interpretations as she embarks on a crazy road trip and parties with her friends in a pub in a village deep in the middle of nowhere.

finally, my favourite track, and the one i've not stopped playing since i discovered it the other day is lose my cool. i would give you anything, bad love on a good day, is one of my favourite lyrics from this track and i'm not sure why. perhaps because i know that feeling so well; the devotion we continue to show someone we care about when they might not necessarily be deserving of it. foxes clearly feels this too. i get nothing in reply, i'm hooked, don't know why. there's no way out, yet something tells you to just keep going in the hope that one day you'll get what you want. 

thanks to this album, i'm now a fully fledged foxes fan as she finally made the album i knew she was capable of, and it feels good to be able to love her music just as much as her sparkling personality. the future is certainly bright for the star as she continues to dazzle fans the world over, and i'm excited to see what she'll do next.

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