Moxy Früvous

The Bottom Line / Velvel Records, 1998


REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


In some ways, bands that get cult followings produce better, more consistent music than big name artists. Certainly, 'cult bands' can depend on a loyal core of fans who love them for what they are, rather than expecting them to be something that'll get the Billboard numbers and the radio plays. Moxy Früvous is one of those bands; the Canadian quartet has developed a small, loyal group of "Früheads" since their 1992 debut. Moxy Früvous has been variously described as a cross between Rockapella, They Might Be Giants, and BareNaked Ladies, the Beatles on a lot of acid, and Canadian; this does pretty well cover the spectrum of what they are, with songs ranging from the utterly serious to the utterly facetious, laced with political and social commentary.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Früvous' career began with a self-produced independent cassette in 1992, and took off in Canada with the release of Bargainville in 1993, fueled by humourous, poppy singles like "King of Spain". So when Wood was released in Canada in 1994, Canadian fans were taken a bit aback. What was this, a serious CD? Its reception was, at best, lukewarm. American audiences, on the other hand, snapped up import copies, and the band's touring schedule now focuses on American venues.

Now that Wood has been released in the States (on October 13, finally), it's easier to get. And it's a good thing; this CD is one of the tightest, most elegant works of pop music I've heard in a very long time. Moxy is a two-sided band, and Wood brings their ability as serious artists into focus. The CD starts with "Down From Above", the released single, a look at religion, media, and the modern day -- but it is the next two tracks that snap the sound into place and practically take your breath away. "Horseshoes" and "Fly" are glittering, arching works; Moxy's four-part harmonies are as complex as any a cappella group, and backed with competent and confident instrumental work, they create songs that stay in your mind long after the CD quiets. "Fly" in particular is bittersweet and powerful, a rare look at those breakups that both sides know have to happen.

Other notable tracks include "On Her Doorstep", a ballad reminiscent of Elvis Costello at his most reflective; "Misplaced", with the poignant string line by guest violinist Danny Levin; and "It's Too Cold", a musical examination of what happens when you step too far away from the rest of the human race. There -are- no weak tracks on this CD; if there is any complaint at all to be had about it, it's that sometimes Moxy becomes too erudite for easy accessibility, the music laced with very slight overtones of college sophomore intellectual snobbery. However, the cascade of crystalline voices more than eliminates any residual bad taste. If you have a liking for Beatleesque pop, guitars, harmonies, and wordplay, then Wood is for you.

Rating: A

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© 1998 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of The Bottom Line / Velvel Records, and is used for informational purposes only.