Sound — 6
Foxy Shazam is the ultimate acquired taste, and this reviewer is not quite ready to indulge in large doses of the Cincinnati, Ohio, band. While it's true that there are few if any rock acts out there resembling Foxy Shazam's sound, the sextet at times is so over-the-top with their arrangements (specifically vocals) that it's hard to take everything completely seriously. With the band's third studio release, a self-titled album on the Sire Records label, Foxy Shazam provides a uninhibited, detailed glimpse at who they are as musicians, and although not always palatable, is at least distinct from the hordes of other groups today. The focal point of every song is undeniably vocalist Eric Sean Nally, who combines a high-pitched, spastic vibrato with the charisma of a musical theater performer. Again, he's entirely unique and you certainly won't find many carbon copies of Nally. The problem is that his presence is so grandiose and over-the-top that it takes over most of the instrumentation. An immediate impression is made in the first few seconds of the CD, with the sound of moaning/barking dogs and Nally declaring, There are sure a lot of dogs out this eveningPerhaps they can assist me. Interestingly enough, that bit of dialogue pales in comparison to anything Nally sings in terms of sheer drama. There is a pop-heavy influence to most of the 13 tracks on the self-title album, with many of them feeling like throwbacks to the golden era of rock and roll, the 1950's. Bye Bye Sympathy and Killin It certainly have the old school, piano-driven ballad feel to something you'd hear by many a Doo Wop group back in the day. Bombs Away is more up-tempo, but it also carries an old-fashioned feel that is backed by a polished horn section. It wouldn't be surprising to learn that Nally and the gang are also big Rocky Horror Show fans because a lot of songs have that same type of style as, say, Hot Patootie. The track Teenage Demon Baby is a prime example, and for the most part Foxy Shazam does a successful job at bringing that stage-show feel to their music. Most of the tracks do feel extremely forced and comically uncomfortable, however. So if you're leery of musical theater, you may want to steer clear.
Lyrics — 6
Much like the musical foundation, Foxy Shazam's lyrics don't shy away from melodramatic themes. The best example arrives in the band's first single Wanna Be Angel, which includes such lines as, I want my friends to think I'm awesome; Awesome, awesome, yeah! I want this world to think I care; I don't care at all! The topics and general lyrical content becomes a bit more creative in Only Way To My Heart (if you care to know, you will need an axe to get to cardiac area), but once again it's not for anyone who enjoys subtlety.
Overall Impression — 6
Foxy Shazam may be one of those acts that will eventually grow on you. Nally sings his heart out in every track and certainly doesn't sound like anybody else out there, but that's not always a good thing at least in this case. In concert the entire package may go over extremely well, but Foxy Shazam's sound just comes across as a bit too overproduced (and exhausting) in the traditional CD format.