This blissful collection of lo-fi guitar pop evokes nostalgia for a time so nice it may have never existed. Or maybe it’s a soundtrack to a teenager’s dreams of timeless summers. It’s also fairly derivative (eclectically and beautifully so), yet original enough in the sense that no other group could have made this album (in the same way that Guided By Voices transcends the various groups it’s aping). “The Duke of Gloucester” evokes XTC, while “Going Down” is pure skinny-tie power pop. “Hands-On” is a Sebadoh sound-alike, while “Bombay: A Silver Anthem” and “Simply Enough” are gray album era Velvet Underground. There are even echoes of the upbeat, melodic brand of alt-country peddled by folks like Wilco and the Jayhawks (“Broken Heart,” “Always,” “Something New”). But then again, these two guys pull it off with enough panache to make you believe they’ve never heard those records.
The Foxymorons are not your regular kind of band. Members Jerry James and David Dewese don’t live in the same city, have never played out, began playing together in a church, and James doesn’t even own a decent guitar. But Calcutta is not your average record, either. The album is all over the pop map, visiting a multitude of influences from the past 20 years. “Reel-to-Reel,” which contains the great line, “You know you can’t go wrong/When you record your own songs,” bears resemblance to early Cars; “Hands-on Presentation” reminds of Sebadoh; and you’d swear that “Duke of Gloucester” was an XTC outtake. Regardless of the style-hopping, The Foxymorons’ writing is top-notch. Maybe if other bands followed their unconventional path, they’d produce records as good.