Normal Fox is a four-piece band composed of Derek Fredericksen, Trae Titus, Spencer Fox and Jacob Sveum hailing from Oshkosh, WI. Their recent release The Tragic Hero is a random mix mainstream pop act like Panic at the Disco and Fall Out Boy with inventive attempts at trying to reinvent the wheel.
Lets start with the vocalist who has a classic emo pop punk voice that is ubiquitous and familiar. Something about his delivery and the actual production of his voice mirrors the aesthetic style of a myriad of bands that bark up a similar tree. The music is often different from song to song. There are hits and misses throughout The Tragic Hero.
The band starts off with an inventive song entitled “Presque Vu.” It starts off with electronic drums and goes off in all sorts of interesting directions. There is some kind of backward effect that gets implemented and the acoustic guitar is then layered into the mix. The song is also quite catchy and gets more intense as it progresses. “Presque Vu” is the highlight of the album and shows the band’s unique qualities while also appealing to an established demographic.
Unfortunately, the next song “Memphis” adheres to the same pop punk style we have been hearing since Blink 182. The song isn’t bad but does nothing to establish the band as anything but another cloned pop punk band that is delivering the tropes and clichés we have come to expect. The next track “Emo Girls” has more in common with ‘90s boy bands then pop punk. It mixes R&B and sound radio ready. “The Vaudeville” was a success as a song but is also another style that displays the inconsistency of the album.
As the album progresses the band has some success with “Quaker” which sounds like a CD is skipping at points and “Fishing for Whales” which has some original concepts and ideas.
The Tragic Hero points to a band that is onto something but hasn't quite arrived. The songs are like misaligned puzzle pieces that don’t fit into a cohesive picture. It’s a flow that is jagged and turbulent. My thoughts are that Normal Fox may truly come into their own with their next release if they can keep their nose to the grindstone and build off of the original aspects of a song like “Presque Vu.”
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