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a holiday escape to the oceanside is meant to keep the tribulations of daily life at bay. yet every joyous moment of vacation is undercut with a strange melancholy as you do the math on the finite nature of your getaway. so, you take your sweet, sweet time with that cold drink and offer a cheers an extra time or two. the songs of la's foreign born's, person to person, are cut through with this same duality: celebration in spite of trouble on the horizon. while the songs are propelled by benga-flavoured beats, fuzzed-out synth bass, clucking tropical cowbells- from soaring horn sections to emotive string arrangements, its frontman matt popieluch's emotive, aschcroft-y delivery that always keep the songs in check. one can't help but imagine this was the mood of foreign born's mid-summer retreat to sunset lodge studios, where bass parts were laid down in the wee hours of morning and the hot tub bubbled late into the night. the result of the session is an album of dense pop that justifies the band's place among top songsmithing contemporaries like cass mccombs and james mercer, as well as greats like (dare i say it?) david bowie (there, i said it). but the band is able to bypass the 'songwriter' label by delivering a much more collective sound - you know, like a band. african high-life guitars are countered with new wave wash; the sound of a band daring to keep its pallet open to most any influence - from u2 to the feelies. if the walkmen weren't afraid to go out in bermuda shorts and flip-flops, you may have a sound close to this... like it could be phil spector's mid-70's 'lost recordings' inspired by the depth of second-line drum bands from new orleans. it's been said that foreign born is an anthem band without 'the' fist-pumping anthem, which may be true. and this is ok, because the trade-off is for an album far more cerebral and sustaining. the thing with summer anthems is that they only last a summer, foreign born delivers the soundtrack for the backyard bbq of the ages. on secretly canadian.
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