Neal Fox’s New Album “Unhinged”
In the music industry, and especially within the realm of the pop genre, having the ability to evolve through the years is as essential to having a long and fruitful career as being talented in the first place is, and if there is an artist personifying this today, it’s independent singer/songwriter Neal Fox. Fox’s new album Unhinged is his tenth official studio effort, joining the likes of LPs that have dropped between the late-90s and as the early 2010s, but it doesn’t present us with an aging player trying to maintain his voice. This is an artist coming into his own like never before, and unveiling an all-new side of his multidimensional personality.
The harmonies in Unhinged really are the record’s bread and butter, and I found those in the title track, “My Special Girl,” “That Rabbit Hole,” and “Fishy” to be among the most memorable here. Whether he’s marrying his voice to rich instrumental melodies or simply joining too conflictive parts together to develop something unique and deliberately overwhelming on an emotional level, Fox is centering the harmonies in the spotlight like they have more to share with us than the words do on their own, and from my view, they do in every instance this tracklist includes.
There are definitely some retro pop sensibilities in the construction of Unhinged that made me think of The Beatles’ latter recordings more than it did anything in the Fab Four’s early work, but nonetheless, I don’t think you need to look past “Insanity Was Throwing a Party,” “Dear Facebook,” and “The Good In Us” to appreciate the vintage influences here. Fox isn’t as guarded with his youthful enthusiasm for the intricate elements of his medium in this record, and as a result, we get a relentlessly open piece that doesn’t sound minimized by anything other than the standard runtime of an LP.
Instead of making this a vocal-forward record, as he probably could have without sounding particularly egomaniacal about it, Neal Fox would seem to have been primarily geared towards a collective offering in Unhinged that makes use of the expressiveness a simple drumbeat, piano harmony, or even a fleeting string melody could impart to the audience. There are moments that almost feel symphonic because of the well-exploited toolset in this LP, but none that really strike me as being so willfully indulgent as to slip into experimental progressive territories best left unexplored by this player.
Versatile and immersive without any apologies, you need to get your hands wrapped around a copy of Unhinged when you’re in the market for compelling new indie pop this coming October. While it might not be the traditional time to drop an ambitious pop effort like this one, there’s nothing familiar about what Neal Fox is embarking on right now – the journey is his and his alone, and we’re merely along for the ride. That said, Unhinged is a witty and thoughtful affair that I think I would have regretted having the opportunity to review ahead of its official release date and not taking it.