Andrew Fox’s debut album Shock by Shock reimagines psychedelic soul and pop as cinematic pastiche: a cross country road trip through the American psyche. “It’s a dream diary,” Fox says. “My hope is people will listen to it in its entirety, preferably while in motion.” Shock by Shock is the first collection of songs to be released under Fox’s given name, after releasing music as VISUALS on Nicolas Jaar’s Other People label, as well as the Berlin based imprint The Song Says.
At the time of the first VISUALS EP release (produced by Jaar and Dave Harrington, aka DARKSIDE), Fox began living in Berlin and Paris. Upon returning to his native New York City from his stint abroad, Fox crafted a musical map of his imaginary America, enlisting a wide community of collaborators. Co-produced by Dave Harrington, Shock by Shock features drums from Nick Kinsey (Kevin Morby, Elvis Perkins), sax from Danny Meyer (Chairlift, Julia Holter), vibraphone from Will Shore (Tmboy, Nublu Orchestra), vocals from Emily Panic (Foxygen), Jules Bakshi, and Ang Low, violin from Jake Falby (Mutual Benefit, Julie Byrne), a cowrite (“Yours Truly”) with Juan Pieczanski (Small Black), trumpet from Dan Fox (“Daytime TV”), and 12 string guitar on “Fear City” from producer Sam Rosenberg. It was mixed by Daniel Schlett and mastered by Heba Kadry.
With lush, sunshiny textures, Shock by Shock’s title track (and lead single) is a tiny symphony in the vein of Phil Spector or Shuggie Otis. Drawing its title from Texas surrealist poet Dean Young, “Shock by Shock” plays like a rallying cry; it’s an epic ode to surviving the everyday through love, as the everyday is strange and getting stranger.
The album’s second single, “John / Candy,” is a buzzy, rocking love affair between two sides of a split personality–and has nothing to do with the late comedian. Written on a hot summer’s day in LA, “‘John / Candy’ came together in about two hours, final lyrics and all,” says Fox. “The song is a bit of John Waters surrealist desert Americana, and the year 1994”. The Deli Magazine had the premiere, praising its “lurid lyrics… against an acidic backdrop of garage guitars and chorus-laden vocals.”
The latest single, “Matchless,” sparks and then blazes into a euphoric, uplifting declaration of love. “We’re living through a trying moment,” says Fox, “and this song embodies the notion that we are not fighting alone.” The track was featured on The Wild Honey Pie‘s Buzzing Daily, and praised for the “electricity to it that can keep you moving and singing along after only hearing it once, in the way old pop classics do.”
Throughout the album, Fox paints stories full of romance, tragedy and humor, with vivid characters from all over the American landscape. “Snow In July” depicts a Vegas stripper who wants out of the game, while “Daytime TV” is a Kinks-like tale of a deadbeat Connecticut heir. The album’s closing statement, “A Man of No Consequence,” tells the tale of a modern day Jesus–“Or maybe it’s about the guy who always sings Beatles covers between the 6th and 7th Avenue subway stations at 14th Street. He’s got a strange radiance,” Fox remarks. AdHoc calls the song “gorgeous” and “heartbreaking.”
With Shock by Shock, Fox has simultaneously built on and transcended his earlier brand of moody psych-pop…. Title track “Shock by Shock” has the immersive quality of Washed Out’s Paracosm-era synthscapes. “Fear City,” searing and languid, breaks up the album like a mirage in a desert. “Walking in Light” shakes and shimmers with jangly percussion. “Yours Truly”—co-written by Juan Pieczanski (Small Black)—is expansive and aching, calling to mind Sun Airway’s subtly epic “Symphony in White No. 2.” The album ends with a gorgeous, heartbreaking piano and horn outro on “A Man Of No Consequence.”
“…it is clear that our left side of the brain’s hemisphere, kinda explodes into shards of jello when we listen to Andrew. And in ‘John / Candy’, it melts as well, for the dang surefire hook of the guitar riff, just rattle all of your stresses off of your shoulders. We cry a little, as the rain of this single, shreds our dignity and re-builds it up again.” — Come Here Floyd
“Fox yields yet another release that confirms his position as one of the most exciting new producers in the game… It\’s not an easy task crafting an EP of varied styles and genres whilst also staying coherent, but Fox pulls it off with grace and understated confidence.” — XLR8R
“Visuals’ sound is dream pop sans the traditional trappings, as Fox is admittedly “caught up in the state of things”, he translates that by never allowing his vocals or the atmosphere to drift too deep into REM. Rather, Visuals locks into a hypnagogia that hazes the EP without sacrificing its consciousness.” – Impose
“The foundation of the [The State of Things] is a nocturnal, electronic composition, cut through with raw post-punk guitar mixed down to an almost hush. The effect is something like standing in the middle of two night clubs at once, but the coming together produces something harmonious.” — Bullet
“I was never any good at math, equations often looking like a completely undecipherable language, exams an hour-long trip into an enigmatic world. “Solve For X (No Result)”, the latest from New York-born, Berlin-based producer Andrew Fox, a.k.a. VISUALS, seems to translate those feelings of frustration over an offbeat paradox into four minutes of buzzy, elongated, psychedelic electro-pop. The track, which was produced by Darkside’s Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington, is equal parts cathartic and jolting, a cure and a new puzzle. ” — Consequence of Sound