From Sao Paolo comes the fourth and final release of 2012 from Wexford native Johnny Fox. In the midst of a sojourn from his project on these shores, The River Fane, Fox has spent his time recording and releasing this quartet of complimentary EP’s that could easily constitute a complete album.
With ‘Silence Is Golden’ he has taken a slightly more experimental step forward than his previous releases, first impressions being that this is a somewhat heavier, musically adventurous endeavour. The frantic percussion of Hartfield Jackson leads things off, with jazz-like rhythms and popping bass runs that solidify in the choruses to combine a bizarre mental association of Smashing Pumpkins and Grizzly Bear. And if that sounds odd, it’s because it is.
The Beach Boys are a touchpad here as with Fox’s preceding EP’s. The vocal interplay of In The Sun is punctuated by drum thuds in an interesting number that is just that bit more expansive and loose than its predecessor. Some glitchy computer noise trickles over the controlled ramshackle of the tom tumbles, before the harmonies come to the fore – an effectual mesh of synthetic and organic clatter.
The acoustic intro and vocals of You Think That You’re In Love are antithesis of the previous tracks. A vinyl crackle adds warmth, alongside the orchestral drone that gradually, almost imperceptibly surfaces and floats underneath it all. Fox’s vocals take on a subtle, augmented harmony in the pessimistic choruses – “And the bad guys call from our own shores/ And you won’t find no pot of gold/ Everything has been sold” – until a gentle, fatigued swinging segment at the end, playful and heartening after the downcast slant of the lyrics.
‘Silence Is Golden’ is an EP that winds down over its three movements. An edgy and frenetic college rock number kicks things off; Fox then pulls back the reins and expands the horizon in the mid-section with the vocal harmonies taking centre stage, before just about waltzing us out with organ, the crackle of a run-out groove and a receding murmur. It’s a worthy cap to a busy year, consistent with its companion EP’s yet still with a wealth of ideas condensed into its short running time.