Foyer Red’s debut LP, Yarn the Hours Away, plays out as a collection of short stories, each with its environment and protagonist(s) meticulously crafted by the band, with lead singer, vocalist, and clarinetist Elana Riordan at the helm. Foyer Red’s debut EP, Zigzag Wombat, showcased their playfully chaotic arrangements, which bridge art-punk, math rock, and sweetly sung indie with a dash of the zoomies. The band synthesizes their homespun take on magical realist indie rock that was centered on their EP with their varied musical influences; taking cues from the otherworldly melodies of Cate Le Bon, Yucky Duster’s jangle-filled crayon rock, and the organized chaos of Deerhoof’s iconic polyrhythms. The songs that makeup Yarn the Hours Away are fantastical, surrealist stories that hinge on contemporary, post-digital life.
The lead single “Etc” captures this dynamic perfectly. Anchored by Eric Jaso’s hypnotizing bass line, the song unfolds with off-kilter call-and-response vocals between Riordan and Kristina Moore, their stilted deliveries bouncing around the mix. The track is searching but discontent with the algorithmic and claustrophobic realities of daily life: singer/guitarist Mitch Myers throws the song for a loop singing, “gathering information / will set you free once you’ve reached / 37 percent / of the database.” While there’s paranoia and cynicism undergirding the lyrics, the song itself is a thrilling and playful listen.
The songs on Yarn the Hours Away are uniformly exciting and compelling; each track feels distinct and sometimes even in direct conflict. The peppy opener “Plumbers Unite!” belies its themes of gamification of our daily lives and delves into the science fiction and fantasy songwriting of Foyer Red’s debut EP. Centered around a relentless rhythm section, their dueling vocals never abate; Moore and Riordan’s honey-sweet but getting more frantic as the song progresses, while Myers’ erratic talk-singing culminates in one final frustrated scream. Juxtapose this with “Gorgeous,” a lovely song about Riordan and drummer Marco Ocampo’s relationship that sees the band slowing their pace into a blissful sway. Riordan coos and sighs over the track while recalling “Marco-isms”; botched colloquialisms that Ocampo uses.
“Gorgeous” shares little in common with “Pocket,” a loose lamentation on late capitalism that touches on time travel and human evolution. Moore and Riordan’s exclamations are chopped up and used as rhythm instruments, layered over the intricately frenetic guitars of Myers and Moore. Foyer Red thrives on these extremes and contradictions. Where their first release was self-recorded, this LP found them in Figure8 Studios with a deadline. “It was really liberating,” says Jaso. “We're all just kind of throwing in our own voices and challenging each other to make the songs better.”
Yarn the Hours Away comes from a lyric on the closer “Toy Wagon.” The song that first marked the time Moore and the rest of the band worked together, a promising spark of a thrilling collaboration to come. “It harkens back to all of us coming together and spending the hours together in music,” says Moore. “There are few moments where you get to relax and exhale,” adds Riordan. “It's what happened when the five of us got together and started writing. We just wrote all of these out there songs and we didn't see a reason to dial that back. Its natural form is in its chaos and layered craziness.”