Jonathan Rado

Law and Order

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As half of the duo behind Foxygen, Jonathan Rado started off his musical career trying to jam as many ideas and sounds as he could into one song. Their early recordings are whiplash-inducing epics of youthful enthusiasm, but when the band began to channel their ideas into calmer, more traditionally understandable songs, Rado split off to make a solo record to explore as many sounds as he possibly could. Not in one song as he and Sam France had once attempted; on Law and Order, Rado takes a slightly calmer approach and uses each song to delve deeply into something unique. Only the opening neo-psych "Seven Horses," which drifts along in a happy-sleepy fashion, sounds anything like something crafted at his day job. After that, he gets into some Nancy & Lee-style shaggy dog country duetting on "Hand in Mine"; goes slightly mad on the underwater fuzzbomb ballad "Looking 4a Girl Like You"; drops a super groovy organ-led go-go instrumental on "Dance Away Your Ego," which sounds like it was lifted from the jukebox of the Kit Kat Lounge in 1963; buries a nice little folk-rocker in buckets of noise on "I Wood," and does the same thing, only minus the noise, on the super-hooky "Faces." And that's only part of side one! The rest of the album is just as adventurous, touching on funky Laurel Canyon songcraft ("Oh, Suzanna"), late-night instrumental soul ("Law and Order"), and even cheesy '80s power synth rock on the truly epic "Pot of Gold." On the surface, it may not seem like an impressive feat; lots of people can style-jump like Rado does here. The magical trick Rado pulls off is that he does it all really, really well. He writes songs that are flat-out catchy and tricky, and easy to get into right away, but also interesting enough that they stand up to repeated listens. And they sound scuffed up and gloriously fun, like Rado was having a great time cooking up each different style. Only "Pot of Gold" falls short of being a winner because honestly, no one on earth can make sub-Starship '80s rock sound good. The rest is darn good though, and shows that Rado has more ideas than one band can hold, and also the skills to turn them into little nuggets of weirdo pop gold.

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