Review: Unravelling Pieces of The Foreign Films’ Psychedelic Puzzle

Hamilton’s The Foreign Films (the moniker of Bill Majoros) takes ambition to a new level.  In a world where attention spans are scarcely held by YouTube clips or Vines, where 4-minute songs gets a radio-edit because they’re somehow long, The Foreign Films remembers what it was to experience an album.  The immersion in a sonic narrative is lost on most artists these days, although there are exceptions (Tori Amos being unabashedly one, given her tendency towards 18-track albums with a uniting theme or story).

But Majoros remembers that feeling of setting record one of two on the turntable, closing the eyes and turning it up.  That appreciation of song as a conduit for an emotional or spiritual journey finds its way into his latest project, The Record Collector.  A double album slated for 2015 release, listeners are being treated to pieces of the whole — one side at a time, just as the protagonist at the centre of his musical journey would savour her personal vinyl collections.

Let’s dig into Side 2 of The Record Collector

The Foreign Films - The Record Collector Side 2

Opener “Emily Blue” cements — for me, anyway — a sense that at this point on the album, our proverbial Dorothy isn’t in Kansas anymore.  There’s a sense of a heavy breath exhaled in its prog-kissed intro, the titular woman casting new light into black-and-white corners of sadness.  Melodically, one can draw easy connections to the sprawling orchestrations of early Floyd with a little love from Jim Morrison between the lines, but there’s a classic alt-rock sensibility to the song that keeps it fresh — a loving hat tip, as opposed to being derivative.

“Land of 1000 Goodbyes” immediately radiates the signature sound of The Foreign Films:  that inviting limbo between The Beatles at their peak and classic early prog experimentation.  Highly visual, the vocals of Kori Pop are deceptively sweet on the surface, yet laced with a sorrow punctuated by the melody.  The juxtaposition of sunny notes and the ominous feel of a storm threatening the cotton candy perfection of a carnival world demonstrate Majoros‘ songwriting prowess.  Similarly, the carnival theme ties back to “Broken Dreamers” — the one last try anthem born for a late-night road trip to the middle of nowhere.  Percussion punches and pops in hand-clap precision, lending a wistful, nostalgic feel to the tune.  Of all of the tracks, this one feels the most noticeably retro, but it fits the vibe of the project for it to do so.

For me, the highlight of the five songs is “Teardrop Town” — a sundown swagger down a deserted street in the haunted shell of a classic Western.  The melody is predatory: stalking, slinking closer, until you can feel it breathing on your neck.  The harmonies of Majoros and Pop add a further layer of hunter and hunted, calling an answering in the darkness.  “Yes, two hearts are better than one,” Majoros sings, “But in Teardrop Town, you’re better off to run.”  A sinister tale of love’s dangerous side, it’s possibly my favourite song by The Foreign Films to date.

The Record Collector (Side 2) is a pay what you can download right now, and well worth an investment.  Click here to grab your own copy, and keep an eye out for the complete double album.

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