I Get A Kick From The New Foxes Album
Dance pop artist Louisa Rose Allen i.e., Foxes has always stood out from the pack of usually bland dance music. Her brand of pop music is both upbeat and up-tempo. Unlike a lot of dance pop, she has always avoided the worst tropes of pop (no vocoders!) and delivers a great singable, danceable melody on top of her synths and beats. Her new album The Kick carries on her style of melodious pop that is hard not to dance to. Even now, I can feel my feet moving as I try to type.
It was easy for me to feel at home with this album since The Kick is jam packed with 80s stylings. “Growing On Me”, for example, could have been a lost Whitney Houston song from 1986. Even the lyrics have a Whitney feeling such as “And I didn’t wanna admit it/I think you’re growing on me.” “Dance Magic” has lots of 80s goodness, especially in the use of sequencers and gated drums from what sounds like a drum machine. The synths also provide “strings”, another 80s feature. “Body Suit” sounds like an 80s pop ballad and “Gentlemen” has that slap bass line found in a lot of new romantics dance songs.
That’s not to say that this is a retro 80s album. The opening “Sister Ray” is very modern upbeat dance pop. More accurately, it’s a love song masquerading as a dance pop song. It’s focus on the longing of love rather than sex (It’s in your arms/You know I’ve been dying to live like this/Straight up, pure cut/You know I’ve been dying to live like this/Crying for your love) makes it a better song then the usual “less have sex on the dance floor” stuff. The title track “The Kick” is perhaps the perfect pandemic song. It addresses that feeling that many of us have during the pandemic of something being just… off. When Foxes sings “When you know you’re missing the kick/When you know you’re missing a beat within the beat, within the heartbeat” you get that immediately. The magic here is that it that the mid-tempo beats keep it feeling hopeful instead of depressing.
There is quite a bit of middle of the road dance songs here too, such as “Absolute” or “Sky Love”. That’s ok. It’s the musical equivalent of potato chips – not exactly a meal but tasty all the same. It helps that songs like “Forgive Yourself” add more depth to the album overall. “Forgive Yourself” has that urgent sound that lends the song the gravitas that the lyrics require. This is a song about losing yourself with the wrong person, waking up to that, and needing to get away. Pretty heavy stuff but the upbeat melody keeps it from becoming ponderous.
Compared to much of the vacuous, brain-dead music that makes up the bulk of dance pop scene, Foxes is manna from heaven. Her music is bubbly but not thin. There is a stylistic thread that run through her tunes but they’re not repetitive. She keeps the silly tropes to a minimum and crafts songs whose lyrics actually matter. The latter is typically not a feature of a lot of dance music where the beats are all that the artists are concerned with. While Foxes deploys a lot of the characteristics of 80s dance music, this is not a self-consciously retro album. Best of all, the songs on The Kick are singable. As they used to say on the late great Dick Clark show American Bandstand, these are songs that have a great tune, and you can dance to them. What more can you want from dance pop?