Nearer My God is the third album by the indie rock band Foxing and, in the current cycle of indie discourse, the newest addition to the canon. It's always tempting to jump on board the wagon as soon as enough tastemakers declare something to be a new classic. It is an event that happens so rarely that, as listeners, we must imbue it with meaning by affirming the consensus, because this whole endeavor of being an indie music nerd lives from breakthrough to breakthrough, hopping from peak to peak.
Nearer My God sounds like the solution the death of guitar music since the rise of Poptimism. Not that poptimism is inherently wrong, but the reassessment of music writing changed the values of the playing field. Suddenly nothing sounded as forward-looking, or cutting edge, or the result of meticulous craftsman engineering like the big budget pop hooks on Top 40 stations. I wrote a little about this with Rostam as a respite from the current indie trend of aping bands from the 70s in a modern context. Foxing seems to have figured out how to not merely refresh indie, but to use true pop mechanics.
"Grand Paradise" is probably the best example of this. Foxing is not afraid to have a great, polished singer. They do not shy away from loop machines, from choruses, from having real danceable rhythms versus a mere percussion section. It is easy to imagine certain segments as Imagine Dragons songs, but only segments. The tapestry at large is unique. The KROQ listeners will no doubt gravitate toward the cathartic shouted choruses 3 minutes in, because it's easy to sing along and pumps in the adrenaline. But it is hard to detract from it when it so thoroughly earns that catharsis; it's a storyline climax built over the song, not merely a good hook to get the people going.
But its gone almost as soon as it arrives. Radio rock is all about the indulgence of the feel good moments, of overloading the hooks at least 3 times in your song. It's that call that makes Nearer My God a kind of deft maneuvering of conventions. Not too indie to avoid a wide audience, but not too beholden to purist conventions to avoid connecting to people.
It's an album that wonders, "what's so wrong with wanting to be loved?" in more ways than one. The title track is another crescendo-drunk anthem. For the pop crowd, it's the vibe of powerful yearning, with big, crisp guitar strums leading the way. For the indie crowd, it's the desperation of "Do you want me at all?" and the idea of giving yourself fully and completely in defeat set as a climax. Together, we may just come to understand each other a little better.