All Music Guide

The Big Star/Lemonheads references are likely to continue on The Foxymorons’ third release. Four years after the duo’s well received Rodeo City album, Hesitation Eyes continues the indie-pop vein they excel at. The multi-talented twosome of David Dewese and Jerry James plays all the instruments except for occasional drums, but the album doesn’t feel excessively overdubbed, even though it was created by mailing the tunes between the members. Neither musician is given credit for any particular sound or even vocal, but that just adds to the group’s mystique. Regardless, this is a subtle gem, filled with lovely, easy going tunes that never pander to lowest common denominator hooks. This lets the songs breath with an airy yet compressed heartbeat. Echoes of the Beach Boys (especially on the breezy “The Lazy Librarian’s Son”), the Velvet Underground’s third album and Jonathan Richman’s offbeat childish innocence pervade the project, even while the group forges its distinctive sound. Banjo, stun-guitar, simplistic keyboards and sunshiny harmonies float between the notes, often obscuring the witty and offbeat words. But after a few listens, the generally deadpan vocals and even-tempered melodies make it easy to latch onto the duo’s concept of obscuring the lyrics’ darker characteristics under lighthearted but never simplistic melodies. The power pop of Matthew Sweet and The Records is also a touchstone, especially on the propulsive title track, as these songs float rather than sting. When the shimmering “Everything Changes” appears, nearly buried at track 10, you realize how deep this album is. The flow is slightly derailed when the last two and a half minutes of “Are You Tired” shifts to unnecessary sound effects of a train leaving a station followed by traffic and crowd noises that last way too long. Yet, like the best pop, each chorus grabs on and won’t let go, rerunning itself in your mind like unforgettable lines of a classic movie. This makes Hesitation Eyes a beautifully crafted, humble treasure that deserves a wider audience than it is likely to get due to its indie label status.