In 2020, rock is a sprawling, divided mess, with more esoteric subgenres to it than there are stars in the sky. Psychedelic black metal, blackgaze, nu-core – there are a million different permutations, but they all come from the same origin: loud, percussion- and guitar-driven music designed to piss off your parents. And Phoxjaw know this.
Since releasing their first songs in 2017, this West Country quartet have become one of the most eclectic in the British rock scene, destroying generic boundaries with reckless abandon. Their brand-new debut album, Royal Swan, is an alien blend of Mastodon, Arctic Monkeys and modern-day Daughters. Frontman Danny Garland (a man who once audtioned for the role of Kylo Ren, Star Wars fans) shares the same coarse ruggedness as Alex Turner or Noel Gallagher, while Josh Gallop and Alex Share’s guitars shift between crunching chords and nasty, noise rock dissonance.
There’s a lot going on there, sure, but it’s kept together both by Kieran Gallop’s grounded drumming and an emphasis on making every song a pop banger. There’s a lot of Beatles and Beach Boys in Phoxjaw’s no-nonsense structuring, lending massive choruses to future anthems like Monday Man and Half House.
By remaining unafraid to experiment while still always delivering on the catchy-as-fuck goods, Phoxjaw embody the ideal spirit of modern heavy music. “TRVE” rock loyalists may not like this four-piece’s refusal to play by the rules. That’s their loss.