This Foxes album was written by Alistair Ryder, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Fraisia Dunn.
For her second studio album, Foxes has gone on record to clarify that she wanted to make a more “stripped back” album, with more personal lyrics that read like diary entries. Although, most diary entries aren’t written by a team of pop ghostwriters (in the case of Scar, up to six are credited), nor do they read as vague statements of self-empowerment telling yourself that “when the tears fall, you’ve gotta just let it go” or that “with you, tonight could be amazing”. The claims that Foxes’ new album is either a confessional or a stripped back affair are instantly laughable. This is a record that is fully committed to transforming Foxes into one of the UK’s biggest pop stars, with the lyrics as universal and as rooted in the same emotional content that shackles every warbler on commercial radio.
There is nothing that feels personal here, which isn’t to say ‘All I Need’ doesn’t feel distinctive. This is one of the most well-crafted batches of pop songs to be released in recent memory, with its oft-bland lyricism actually working in its favour, ensuring that all the tracks can become sing along anthems after the first listen. Second track ‘Better Love’ features a chorus of amateur singers screaming the lyrics in the background, doubling as a statement of intent that these are songs designed for mass appeal, ready to be murdered by the general public everywhere from singing in the car to becoming karaoke staples. In spite of this, the album has interesting production choices that ensure that it does not feel like a product of an assembly line; unlike most commercial pop it can sit comfortably on both Capital FM and streaming playlists aimed at those who wear glasses without frames.
The maximalist production does ensure that listening to the full album at once is like falling into a sugar coma, the innocent lyrics and effectively simplistic instrumentation proving to be too sickly if consumed in large doses. As a collection of pop songs it is perfect – there isn’t a track here that couldn’t feasibly be a single. But as a cohesive album, it falters somewhat; the more ballad heavy second half doesn’t stop producing good songs, but it does stop producing songs that sound distinctive in comparison with the prior track list. It is only when these tracks are heard consecutively that they become less engaging; after all, there is only so much generic lyricism a listener can take before beginning to wonder where the personal elements are hiding. Unless Foxes really is a boring human being who lives and dies by the bland sentiments she expresses.
Luckily, ‘All I Need’ is an album that isn’t designed to be held up to lyrical scrutiny. It is an album of effective earworms, produced lovingly and delivered with an irresistible vocal performance throughout. Its mission statement is global pop domination and as the songs wrap themselves firmly around your brain, it is hard to deny they deserve it.
‘All I Need’ is out now via Sign of the Times.
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