Foyer Red makes sweet yet abrasive songs that careen into delightfully unexpected places. The group’s potent art rock embodies a spirit of collaborative exploration, as a seemingly endless supply of ideas accrue and collide as part of a spirited musical conversation between the band’s members, a sensation that is heightened by the often literal conversation occurring between their three principle vocalists. It’s a formula that blends masterful left-field pop songwriting with absolute chaos, and on their debut LP Yarn the Hours Away (out May 2023 via Carpark), the result is a collection of surrealist indie rock that is a testament to Foyer Red’s unshakable bond and obvious chemistry.
The band started as a trio with singer and clarinetist Elana Riordan, drummer Marco Ocampo, and singer/guitarist Mitch Myers. The three would email each other song ideas and record the ones that stuck. In 2021, they released their debut EP Zigzag Wombat, which drew comparisons to Suburban Lawns from Pitchfork, who described it as “fuck-you crayon rock.”
Despite the success of the EP, Foyer Red reinvented itself as a five-piece, adding singer and guitarist Kristina Moore and bassist Eric Jaso, who took an equal part in their egalitarian songwriting method. It’s an approach that creates a giddy atmosphere across Foyer Red’s debut, with the band’s members constantly caught up in the thrill of discovery as they explore the musical environments they are creating. While the album displays a diversity of themes, the sense of navigating unknown territory is often mirrored in the lyrical content of the songs, which are structured as conversations, with Riordan, Myers and Moore portraying different characters. In practice this can be wildly imaginative — as on “Wetland Walk” where Myers plays a character exploring a swamp, Moore a swamp monster and Riordan the swamp itself — but also emotionally resonant in unusual ways — as on “Etc” which depicts a fractured interaction between Riordan and Myers who are portraying a couple in a dysfunctional relationship, with Riordan asking existential questions of Myers who uses stilted language as he attempts to calculate the ideal parking space in a Lowe’s parking lot. It’s a daring experiment in songwriting and one that pays off in part because of the member’s willingness to follow each other down the strangest of avenues.
Recorded with producer Jonathan Schenke (Dougie Poole, Parquet Courts) at Figure8 Studios in Brooklyn, Yarn The Hours Away, is a striking next step for Foyer Red that makes good on the promise of their heralded debut EP. It’s an ambitious album that reflects the rigorous process of its creation, but one that manages to capture the excitement of a band finding out just how far their wildest impulses can take them.