Jonathan Rado recorded the songs for his debut solo record while on sabbatical from his main group, Foxygen. When I first saw the cover art for Law and Order, I was immediately reminded of Lindsey Buckingham’s first solo release. Both records share the same title, and feature a chest-up photograph of the brains behind the songs. We could take the Buckingham comparison one step further and make reference to the internal band/relationship conflicts that both have (allegedly) suffered before going solo, but that horse has been beaten nearly everywhere else.
Speaking of horses: Law and Order opens with ‘Seven Horses’, a slow-rolling, repetitive psychedelic trip carried by a looping synthesizer line. If Buckingham ever covered a Sonic Boom song, it would sound a lot like this song: tense, repetitive, but juxtaposed with polite vocals. It’s not unlike Buckingham’s weirder songs, and could actually pass for one of his songs if you dropped it in the middle of Tusk.
From here on out, Law and Order takes a complete left turn. The opening bars to ‘Hand in Mine’ lead the listener to believe that Rado has borrowed a riff from the Partridge Family, before turning into an unabashed Nancy & Lee rip-off. Its call-and-response vocals are cute, but the song borrows too many ideas from Hazlewood’s songbook to impress. The rest of the record bounces between further genre exercises and lo-fi freak outs, with a dearth of substance in many of the songs. ‘Dance Away Your Ego’ sounds like a Question Mark and the Mysterians instrumental, or the theme to a 60s variety show.
Overall, ‘Law and Order’ feels thrown together in haste. Given the level of depth that Foxygen’s ‘We Are The 21st Cenutry…” had, we know that Rado is capable of releasing something much more substantial and coherent. This makes the brief moments of brilliance (‘All The Lights Went Out’, ‘Oh, Suzanna!’) and the weaker points on this album even more frustrating. Here’s hoping the new Foxygen record begins to materialize before the year’s end.