Like a Fox, "Where’s My Golden Arm?" (RedEye) ** 1/2
"The Man With the Golden Arm" was a groundbreaking 1955 movie staring Frank Sinatra as an ex-con trying to shake a heroin addiction.
That’s the first thing that came to mind when I saw the title of Like a Fox’s sophomore disc. It had been described as a psychedelic album.
So in I went looking for some dark, drug-induced music — the type that often toes the line between genius (Velvet Underground) and the godawful (Brian Jonestown Massacre).
To my surprise, "Where’s My Golden Arm?" is one of the year’s sunniest power pop albums.
The disc is full of guitars, a ton of keyboards and a singer (Jay Laughlin) whose voice registers somewhere between Wayne Coyne and Robert Schneider. Naturally, the Philadelphia quintet can sometimes sound like a band trying hard to imitate others, but still does it well.
"Night Person" feels straight out of Schneider’s Apples in Stereo power pop catalog. It has an infectious beat, like a song you remember but you can’t quite put your finger on (handclaps will always do that). So too with "Time Stands Still" — a blast of pop if there ever was one.
The best song, "Better Bring a Bomb," has an epic quality to it, going from quiet to fury with ease and excitement.
The album has its down moments. "Gold" veers from psychedelic to new age, and the closer "Just a Light Hit" seems like a needless Pink Floyd imitation. Like a Fox often relies too much on guitar solos, although the one that closes, "Been Sitting Here," is thrilling.
Like a Fox sometimes strays from its pop inclinations, but not as much as you would expect from a neo-psychedelic band. There really is no overwhelming feeling of an acid trip or a hazy heroin cloud of ecstasy.
So maybe it’s good that Laughlin and Co. don’t have a clue where their golden arm is.
— Scott Fallon, Staff Writer