REVIEW: Foley’s 'Vacation' is fun, summer-y beginning to a promising career
Foley brands themselves as two best friends simply having a good time, but their new EP Vacation betrays this front more than they may have intended. I’m not questioning the close bond of New Zealanders Ash Wallace and Gabriel Everett; all of that seems quite genuine. However, the proof is in the pudding. This EP is too polished, too ambitious to have been created by the seats of their polyester pants. It is also just as fun as their “just two friends” pitch makes them out to be. Though I’m not sure they’ve found their own unique sound yet, they’re certainly on their way to crafting whatever that turns out to be.
The opening track “Keep Me On My Toes” is the highlight of the project. Its funky groove and slow and slinky, yet sort of airy, pre-chorus have been stuck in my head since I heard it. If it’s not a hit on pop radio in the next few months, I’d be genuinely disappointed. I used to work at a Macy’s in the juniors department and this is exactly the sort of thing that top 40 retail radio aimed at the teen demographic needs! It’s much more fun than anything that played in my time there (though keep in mind I worked there during a year I consider to have had a dearth of good pop music; 2018 you were such a disappointment!), seamlessly incorporating indie-influenced guitar licks with the explosively unapologetic pop sensibilities of the chorus. It’s catchy and I like it!
“Better Than Love” is another highlight; though sandwiched in the middle of the EP deadzone, its R&B influence makes it stand out from the rest of the songs here. There are two slower-tempo tracks on Vacation, this one and “Anything Before You,” and “Better Than Love” is much better. Where “Anything Before You” is a bit too glossy to register as anything more than a blip on the love song radar, “Better Than Love” is darker and sexier.
Vacation ends with “Rendezvous” and “So Personal.” Both songs point Foley in a direction that may make sense for their next project. “Rendezvous” is most directly comparable to Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia, with its bouncy verses and lightly disco-influenced chorus. Foley is more summery and breezy than Lipa, an energy especially present on “So Personal.” The vocals from Wallace especially stand out on this track, though the guitar line is the least interesting of any of the songs on the project. However, both songs showcase a side of Foley that seems to hint at greater pop ambitions. I’d love to see them take on a disco project with a brighter feel than the dark Future Nostalgia. It could really suit them.
As for right now, Foley’s just carving out who they are. If Vacation is something they can put out this early in their career, they clearly have a good ear for pop music. What’s important now is discerning how they can use it to move themselves forward. No matter which direction they do go in, I’m sure it will at least be a good time.
McKinzie Smith is a former film student from Portland, OR. In her adolescence, she followed Fall Out Boy up and down the West Coast. She now considers herself very cool and normal and only a little bit emo. She now spends most of her time listening to Charli XCX in her kitchen and writing articles about things she likes.