Delayed Reaction: Moxy Fruvous, Thornhill

Every so often, I feel inclined to dip back into the wellspring of the music of my childhood (or early adulthood, as the case may be) and revisit something I used to listen to until my ears fell off. The Moxy Fruvous album Thornhill is one such trip.

It all started Thursday night when one of the songs off the album, “My Poor Generation,” came up on shuffle on the ol’ iPod. I thought to myself, “Man, haven’t heard this song in ages! Why don’t I listen to these guys more?” ‘Cause seriously, there was a period of about three or four years there (in college and into grad school) where I listened to them constantly. My computer was full of illegally-downloaded tunes by the Canadian quartet, I had their website bookmarked, and I was deeply disappointed that they went on “indefinite hiatus” around the same time I really got into them. It was like the cosmos was laughing at me.

Thornhill is one of those “mature” records that arists sometimes make. Moxy Fruvous was always a little goofy and silly, what with writing songs about European monarchs on the lam and bandit fish and all. But Thornhill was a fairly serious, adult affair: sure, there were still jokes, but they weren’t the focus of the songs. Rather, the melodies, the harmonies, and the personal stories were front and center. And these guys can sing and write a lovely pop song, lemme tell you. The album is chock-full of perfectly-balanced pop songs with clever lyrics, layered vocal harmonies, and a folky, jangly sound that I could just listen to for days on end.

Do I love this album as much now as I did back then? I dunno. It’s aged well, I know that. Some of the songs rely too much on their clever wordplay to try to get them through (“Hate Letter” in particular), and a couple of songs really drag down the back half of the record (“Independence Day” and “Downsizing,” the two most doggedly serious songs on the record, spring readily to mind here), but most of the album is still great. Well over half of the tracks on the album have a five star rating on my iPod, so that speaks pretty clearly to how much I still enjoy this music.

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