Monday, August 5, 2013

Review: 'This is Your Brain on Love' by Fox & Cats

I'm a strong believer in the bond between seasons and music.  It's different for everyone, but it's there.  Whether you want something poppy and upbeat for the long summer days or a more mellow album to make it through cool autumn nights, everyone has those songs, those albums, those artists that carry a significance and bring them .  It's that time of the year where we're getting to be in between seasons - vacations are wrapping up and students are getting to go back to school with fall close behind - and that has its own special music, too, the kind that reminds you have what you're leaving behind and at the same time what you're looking forward to.  The new EP from Houston-based duo Fox & Cats, This is Your Brain on Love, perfectly fills that gap

Fox & Cats is guitar- and drum-heavy - not wholly unexpected considering it's just a pair, Josh Willems and Nicole Wigginton, doing the heavy lifting - but the band doesn't fall into a rut of being predictable or boring, even on the short six-track EP.  Opening track "Thoughts" keeps things interesting with slower verses interspersed with quick, upbeat choruses, while "Write it Off" is more poppy throughout.  There's enough variety that you'll instantly be able to tell the difference between tracks even as the duo maintains a cohesiveness that's impressive, and it's apparent that they're a band who knows and is confident in their identity.  It doesn't hurt that This is Your Brain on Love is catchy as hell, either.  Not just nod-your-head catchy, but rock-on-an-air-guitar-or-drums-when-you-clearly-know-nothing-about-playing-guitar-or-drums catchy.

Songs will get stuck in your head in the best way possible thanks not only to the music but the lyrics as well.  If "I know it's late and I should be sleeping/But I can't help but wonder what I'm gonna do when you're gone" from the aforementioned "Thoughts" doesn't spell the perfect end to summer - leaving behind people and places and heading headlong toward a new year - I'm not sure what does. "Terrible Things" is a dark and darkly funny song of frustrations with life.  Like the music, you'll find a common thread spun in different ways with the lyrics that capture the theme of the EP without feeling stale or belabored.  Willems vocals are superb, earnest and with great range that fit each song perfectly and tie everything together into one enjoyable package.

For me, the end of summer is a time where I want something I can tap my foot to and enjoy with the windows rolled down but that also has a little more substance and weight to it.  Fox & Cats have crafted that with This is Your Brain on Love, an EP that is, at turns, funny and thought provoking and sad but always catchy and always read for you to rock out to.  As the first proper release from Fox & Cats, I can't help but listen to it with high hopes and huge expectations for their future.

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