JOHN FOXX AND THE MATHS – THE SHAPE OF THINGS
Released: October 2011
The Shape of Things is the second album by John Foxx and The Maths, released just seven months after their critically acclaimed debut, Interplay, and sold exclusively on the 2011 Interplay tour.
Compared to Interplay, The Shape of Things is much rougher around the edges and slightly less polished, giving the tracks more of a b-side kind of feel, but also something more spontaneous and experimental, perhaps more like what Foxx had originally envisioned for Interplay.
Although the familiar romantic nostalgia and Quiet Man scenarios are present, there is much more of a melancholic and reflective tone to the writing, which some may interpret as more open, and certainly emotive – particularly on "Rear View Mirror" and "Unrecognised", which for me stands out as one of the most moving songs Foxx has written in recent years.
It also feels more sombre than its predecessor, certainly a shade darker. Musically it is perhaps more about the finer details and subtleties – the tracks are punctuated by short instrumentals and there are no anthemic "Evergreen" or "Summerland" type songs. "Talk" sounds like the quieter younger brother of "Shatterproof", and "September Town" will already be familiar to many, though it's nice to finally see it in the context of an album. "Vapour Trails" harks back to Foxx's Ultravox brand of occasionally chirpy pop with a hint of Nation12, while "Tides" hints at some kind of finality; an optimistic exit off into a sunlit distance. However the album closes on a more mysterious note with one of the albums' standout tracks, "The Shadow of His Former Self".
The second disc in this lavishly packaged double album contains several Interplay remixes; the most notable being the radio edit of "Evergreen" and the Andy Gray versions of "Interplay" and "Watching A Building On Fire" both of which I'd even say surpass the originals in excellence. "Where You End and I Begin", is a new track which predominantly features Tara Busch on vocals.
Overall, The Shape of Things manages to both contrast and compliment Interplay, and perhaps puts John Foxx back in his comfort zone after Interplay's meteoric rise to success.