During a recent brief hiatus, Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado took some time to write and record his debut solo LP. Law & Order is refreshingly diverse; each song stands very much on its own, yet they are all distinctly Rado. Each has his style in instrumentation, his signature 70s-throwback vocals, and the sly smile you get with a Foxygen song.
Jonathan Rado sets the album’s tone early. Male and female, call and response vocals adorn a holiday-like jangle in “Hand in Mine”. In “Looking 4a Girl Like U”, Rado keeps the audio input level at max, causing his vocals to be distorted. This is very much an exploratory record for Rado, jumping from the Johnny Cash — or maybe Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra — of “Hand in Mine” to the Marvin Gaye of “Looking 4a Girl Like U”. In album closer “Pot of Gold”, Rado jumps forward a decade to 1980s pop.
“Faces” sides on the more accessible end of the record — this is the song Foxygen fans will latch onto. It is followed by “Oh, Suzanna!” which references the pop bands of the 70s that drew influence from The Beatles while injecting a thick psychedelic pop haze into the mix.
This album is all over the place. The pairing of “Faces” and “Oh, Suzanna!” side-by-side makes sense, but I feel Rado is smirking at the listener. It’s deceiving — these two quite pleasant songs amidst ones that are recognizable through a variety of genres and sub-genres that, much like the music of Foxygen, take and contort those styles into something entirely unique.
Jonathan Rado will release his Law & Order on September 3 via Woodsist Records.