As an artist, Jonathan Rado is in a post-pubescent phase. Right around that milestone period of high school when they give you the computerized test that suggests you’d make a great fireman, florist, screenwriter for soap operas etc. The psych-rock fahsionista has already exhibited his scene phase with his bros in flower power and dope clouds, Foxygen. So on this solo debut, Rado offers up us his portfolio as a musician. And if we were computers mapping out Rado’s strengths and weaknesses to see where he should steer in the future, he gives us a pretentious amount to work through with twelve songs, each averaging near four minutes. First impression: either he’s a little shoddy at paring things down, or he didn’t really know which artistic thread would be best to showcase.
Each song on Law And Order is sui generis but overarchingly shares the motif of the chicest sounds of classic 1960s rock. Hand In Mine is a sugary sweet jingle of sexual frustration that would be sell like sex circa 1963. More progressive numbers like I Wanna Feel It Now!!! sound like great bouts of articulate white noise, but with a one-liner that was so seemingly solid it didn’t matter that there were really no lyrics to cushion it. Or maybe the repetition is meant to represent some amount of carnal ravenousness.
Like everything Foxygen has put out thus far, Law And Order is also suffused with enough protopunk finesse to sound like an au courant Velvet Underground. I Wood and Would You Always Be At Home? are all chipper nonsensical numbers, but neither quite have the outlandish imagery found in We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace And Magic. Essentially, Rado has made a Foxygen album but created all the content himself and put his bust as the cover so that we would be totally sure that other Foxygen founding member, Sam France, was not in on this one.
If Jonathan Rado (and maybe Foxygen as a whole) ever wanted to cook up a well-thought-out publicity stunt, Law And Order would be ingenious, given all the inter-band conflict rumors that the youthful group have been getting recently (if not prematurely) in the blogsphere. Which frankly, can throw a wet blanket over the fact that Rado just put out a decent solo attempt. Especially in light of the fact that he doesn’t deviate much from what he’s up to when he’s with his mates. Press can be damaging, and I don’t think timing worked in Rado’s favor this time around. It’s not as if he’s Tom Yorke. It makes sense that when Tom Yorke sneezes, or when Tom Yorke’s music isn’t playing at Chipotle, you know about it because you know he has written more than a few albums that made people discover the meaning of their lives, or something to that extent. The press blurbs aren’t really going to divert attention from the music in his case. Rado’s work and fame aren’t nearly extensive enough yet to deflect the blog chatter.
But as long as social media exists, shit will happen. And regardless of whether Jonathan Rado and Sam France have some sort of compulsive fantasy to encapsulate the bromance of McCartney and Lennon, well, we all had our weird juvenile crushes and heroes too that we may or may not still be wet-dreaming over. of course it’s perfectly possible Rado just wanted to take five and do his own thing for a hot sec.
Hover up out of the blogosphere banter and Law And Order will work just fine as a not-so-shabby alternative to listening to your “1960s” Pandora station. It has the integrity of a good record store find—vintage in character, but a total novelty in your ownership.