“Pencil Me In” by Fovea – Review
“Pencil Me In” by Fovea… Where do I start?
Let’s look at the star of this album: “Cost Of.” That lush soundscape ushered in by a strong, unique voice, the gentle taps from auxiliary percussion combined with the bass drum to maintain the song’s forward motion, and everything else just falling into place overtop, “Cost Of” is locked down in the pocket like good jazz and neo-soul should be, but is also sleek and contemporary. Several other songs are solid, like “S’Appler” and “New Meds.” Other would-be clever songs fall flat. Chief among these is “Boss Boy.” Fovea’s use of autotune creates stagnant and unimpressive lyrics where a human voice should be, and the beeping synthesizers and whining guitar in the intro don’t make sense or serve a purpose. “Don’t Play” is my favorite demonstration of improper use of the unique voices in Fovea, where the female vocalist swallows her voice almost to the point of sounding like a Shakira parody, and where the male vocalist tries to hit notes that are too low for him to control. As for every other error on the album, “Received” is the best example. “Received” contains two poems, the second of which is almost completely unintelligible, and neither poem contributes anything to either the song, or album as a whole. Dissonance and ugliness were introduced into the background music for the second poem, which should’ve drawn attention to the tension in the poem, but ended up just sounding bad, especially since it’s so hard to hear the poem anyway. Every error here—adding risky artistic elements without greater reason or proper execution, smart words delivered poorly, background instruments drowning out lyrics—could be found somewhere else in the album, and detracted greatly from my listening experience. It breaks my heart: Fovea demonstrated great musical competence and wit, as well as three albums worth of ideas, all in one. But unfortunately, “Pencil Me In” came across as unfocused and pretentious.