Foreign Exchange – Authenticity Album Review

I was beguiled during  my “1st listen” of Foreign Exchange’s new album by a friend that didn’t want me to get overly excited & cause a car accident, because Im the hugest FE fan and I was operating a motor vehicle. The entire time it played, I wondered aloud, “is this the new FE, you don’t know who this is, that sounds like Phonte, that doesn’t sound like Phonte to you? I think it’s them, Well if it is them me likeeee, I’m telling you it’s them!” Of course it was Nicolay, Phonte and crew & I was just being kept in the dark due to my unbridled, childlike excitement for things I love. It was a great attempt at a covert operation, however when I heard the 1st 12 seconds of the album I knew immediately that Authenticity had arrived. Let’s go…

Following Connected and Leave It All Behind, of course there were will be comparisons and expectations for Authenticity. The overall tempo of the album is slower compared to its predecessors but still holds true to the Foreign Exchange aesthetic. Great instrumentation, great lyrics, but fewer collabos & tracks to dance to… change has occurred. Not to say that more collaborations and upbeat tracks mean a lack of depth, Authenticity just seems to have a different direction and goal. Aside from Maybe She’ll Dream of Me and Make Me a Fool there’s an absence of the upbeat, hit the floor tracks we’ve come to enjoy from the duo.

Whereas this is a good project, it feels like a 1st album, a regression from Connected and definitely Leave It All Behind. I was expecting them to surpass the feelings I still feel when listening to Leave It All Behind. The chills I got from the musical arrangements on their sophomore album I haven’t experienced on any track on Authenticity, not once. Yes, I’m aware this is a different album and you may be tired of my comparisons however, I have always been able to count on FE’s music to woo me and make me fall in love with the sounds & harmonies. While listening to Authenticity I was tuned in but because I was *paying* attention. Past albums on the other hand have *grabbed* my attention; no effort on my part.

My feelings could be a result of great expectations & a tainted palette. I didn’t come to the album with virgin ears; I came expecting a sound that many flock to in hail, rain, and snow to see live. The 80s electro pop acid jazz vibe, [think sounds a la Prince, Keen, The Postal Service] adds a new element to the FE repertoire. I like it but I don’t love it. It gets continued play because unfortunately it fades into the background & doesn’t distract me from my work. No singing along, no rewinding. I want to be distracted. Good album but not great. Not the classic Foreign Exchange that I’ve grown to love.

What are your thoughts…?

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