Foyer Red Craft Exhilarating Chaos on Yarn the Hours Away

The Brooklyn quintet mix art-pop and indie rock on their sweet, zany debut album

Music Reviews Foyer Red
Foyer Red Craft Exhilarating Chaos on Yarn the Hours Away

Foyer Red want to catch you off guard. The Brooklyn-based band cartwheels around wonky riffs and sugary vocals that make you dizzy with exhilaration on their debt album Yarn the Hours Away. Out now via Carpark Records, the whole record is a collage of avant-garde, off-kilter sweetness. Every song is a curveball in the coolest way imaginable—whether it’s the staccato percussion on the lead single “Gorgeous,” or the serpentine bassline on “Etc”—and you never know what to expect. It’s a roller coaster ride from start to finish that keeps you completely engaged and on the edge of your seat.

Starting out with just singer/clarinetist Elana Riordan, drummer Marco Ocampo and singer/guitarist Mitch Myers, the trio naturally progressed into a five-piece over time. While Yarn the Hours Away has a thoroughly different sound from their first EP, Zigzag Wombat, they retained the same songwriting mentality—encouraging each other to “take the idea further” until they landed on something that reflected their eclectic ideas and eccentric style. The result is an album that weaves and winds through each band member’s mind—a bricolage of zany riffs and the reality of becoming a mid-pandemic band in New York City.

Foyer Red gracefully tread the line between maximalist art-pop and baroque indie-rock. It’s never tacky. They know when to go full force—shown in the calculated chaos of “Plumbers Unite!”—and when to pull back—like on “A Barnyard Bop,” which features glittering vocals, reserved instrumentals and a contagious radiance. They know how to play to their strengths, when to make a track ornate and when to let the subtitles surprise you. It takes a few listens to pick up on the nuances, but that’s the best part: You find another part of the project to fall in love with, whether it’s the third listen or the 30th.

There’s a lot of pressure to craft an album that’s perfect on the surface, to stick to what you know or to what’s popular. Foyer Red has no problem diverging from the mainstream and allowing themselves to experiment with unconventional sounds. They bring a brightness and sense of awe, most evident on the glowing “Wetland Walk”—which begins with a carefree and casual whistle, and ends with a bassline that feels like springtime.

It’s these glimpses of sunshine sprinkled throughout the 12-track LP that makes you realize how beautifully chaotic life can be. While Foyer Red take an egalitarian approach to songwriting, it’s clear that they share a common vision. It comes across through the mesmerizing way the vocals sync up on “Blue Jazz” before melting into psychedelic distortion. It could never be accomplished if there wasn’t an effortless chemistry—and borderline telepathy—between the bandmates. The way they go back and forth and bounce off each other contributes to the playfulness the album possesses; it’s also what makes it so special.

There’s that expression about how sometimes less is more, but Foyer Red make it seem so overrated. They prove that you need to go with your gut, to throw in that disconcerting bassline or second vocal track—to add in everything you can and trust that you’ve created something that shines from all the small details. Yarn the Hours Away puts it all on the table; Foyer Red leave nothing untouched, and, through their exploration, they make a courageous debut that checks all the boxes.

Samantha Sullivan is a former Paste Music intern and writer based in Philadelphia. She can be reached on Instagram @fangirlpurgatory.

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