Hailing from Baraboo, Wisconsin, a place that is home to the Circus World Museum, you might expect PHOX to be a little different. These six escapees from that mid-western US town scattered across the state before coming back together to form something bigger than their constituent parts, a kind of folk-pop-rock-indie hybrid. Their first full length record is one of the finest debuts of 2014, and arriving with limited hype means that it genuinely surprises and arrives without twelve months worth of PR prep (although you can read our recent interview with lead singer Monica Martin if you want more background).
There’s such a variety of sound on the record, ranging from the slightly haunting slow burn of opener ‘Calico Man’, through the folkish rhythms of ‘1936’, to the London Grammar-ish ‘Laura’. The melodies and lyrics on offer are great in themselves, but the real asset is Martin. Her beautiful voice is low in tone but has a huge range; she’s able to convey the weight needed to accompany the banjo and harmonies of ‘Evil’ but also show a light touch on the delightful ‘Kingfisher’. Slide guitar opens ‘Satyr and The Fawn’ and there’s piccolo and banjo elsewhere, all adding to the selection of sounds. PHOX proves this band from that little circus town is the real thing; they’ve walked the tightrope on this dexterous debut - next up, lion taming.