Indie-Electronic Artist Michael Fox's Debut EP Thrums With Energy
Back in 2017, London-based artist Michael Fox recorded a series of songs that combined the softness of his signature acoustic style with the darker tones of electronica. What resulted was his debut EP, Before The Cold Heart, released last summer on Beanie Tapes.
Though it’s been a year since its release, we’ve only just heard the EP recently, and we’re so mesmerized by it that we needed to tell you about it too. ”I had been writing and playing indie-folk songs for a while, and when I started working with Candy Says on a new project, I found the conflict and combination of my acoustic instruments and their electronic production really inspiring,” Michael Fox tells The Music Mermaid. “The song I keep returning to most is ‘London’s Burning,’ which I wrote in response to the horrific tragedy at Grenfell Tower where so many people lost their lives. I was trying to understand how such a thing could happen in my city. It exposed the gap between those who have and those who are overlooked.”
An eclectic, anxious collection, Before The Cold Heart finds five warring tracks, each of which play with new electronic elements. “We Had” opens the EP with the pulsing buzz of synth, metallic in its jerks and glitches. Michael’s vocals have a haunting lilt to them, like they’re hiding but trying to be brave. It’s a stunning opener, one of those soul-deep songs that hums long after it’s gone. On “Watching The World Fall Apart,” we move from the ethereal dreamscape of the EP’s beginning and fall instead into a brighter world of vibrant electronic beats popping in quick succession beneath a thick croon before the arrangement froths over with neon melodies and a steady percussive base. It is worlds removed from the first track — different moods, different tones, different styles, but in just two tracks, we welcome Michael’s boundless creativity.
The halfway point of Before The Cold Heart finds “Cold World,” a thumping track that masterfully merges the contraries of the previous two tracks. We return to dreamy vocals and more natural sounds, but they’re sharing space this time with synth shimmers and almost otherworldly swells that hadn’t quite appeared previously. There’s an urgency to this one, like it’s racing in slow-motion. On “They Don’t Love You Like I Do,” resounding electronic beeps lead the composition before emotive vocals ride in on waves of swollen synth. It starts off as your typical electro piece, but an unexpected addition of twangy acoustic strums and pop vocal delivery turn it into something one-of-a-kind that only Michael and Candy Says could have created. Before The Cold Heart ends with “London’s Burning,” a crushing indie-folk ballad that kicks off with a sweet flutter of acoustic and poignant lyricism — “come light a match for the fallen and dead on the street / for if London is burning at least you can live off the heat” — before devolving at the halfway point into a gorgeous, filled-out arrangement that finds strings matched with the lightest hint of synth, a conclusion that rises and falls in the same vein as the rest of the EP had been doing.
On Before The Cold Heart, Michael Fox exhibits unending talent from songwriting to production and every intricacy that lay between. Each track is so wildly different, built on specific emotions and marred by moments of sonic surprise. It’s a labyrinth, this EP, weaving in and out of territory we thought we’d left behind with each new track, but the takeaway is that every composition on Before The Cold Heart has been crafted with such care and creativity that it makes for an unreal listening experience.