This article originally appeared in Loud & Quiet
James Hoare (Ultimate Painting) and Max Oscarnold’s (Toy) debut record under the name The Proper Ornaments, ‘Wooden Head,’ sat somewhere between The Byrds and The Velvet Underground. It also swathed itself in more than a few layers of distortion. Their follow-up ‘Foxhole’ sees them almost literally burrowing into a more insular sound, all but doing away with the fuzziness that characterised their debut and replacing it with a few more piano-led melodies.
The stripped back sound gives them more of an air of Neil Young than Lou Reed, and when it comes to the warm tones of opener ‘Back Pages 2’ or ‘Memories,’ that’s a welcome change of pace. But often it’s all a bit too laid back. ‘When We Were Young’ tells a very brief narrative and then unceremoniously ends just as it appears to be getting into its stride; it comes across more like a demo. As such ‘Foxhole’ digging into can sometimes be more frustrating than magical.