Record Review: John Foxx + The Maths – Tarzan + Jane Regained DL

john foxx + the maths - tarzan + jane regained cover art

Metamatic Records | UK | DL | 2020

John Foxx + The Maths: Tarzan + Jane Regained UK DL [2020]

  1. Tarzan + Jane Regained [single version]

Originally, “Howl,” the new album by John Foxx + The Maths was scheduled for release on May 15th but with the COVID-19 lockdown, many artists were holding release dates back until people were more able to buy physical product again. So it was a surprise on the morning of May 1st, when I got word from the Metamatic mailing list that “Tarzan + Jane Regained” had gotten pre-released ahead of the album, which was by then pushed out to July 27th.

I’ve was called back on the job last week, so there will be more regular postings due to Lunch Hour having become more regular of late, even as I feel that the rush back to the old ways could be potentially catastrophic. As a wage-slave, I don’t have much say in the matter. Things have been so topsy-turvy lately, that I’m only just able to have a solid listen to the second pre-release single from John Foxx + The Maths from the still upcoming “Howl” album. What’s it like?

A single beat dropped before the song began on the “two.” Right away the interplay was between the rhythm box and the minor key flute-like synths [that can’t help but make me think of The Specials “Ghost Town”] and Robin Simon’s guitar, which was more under control than on the last Maths outing. I suspect that what I thought were flute patches were actually Hannah Peel’s heavily mutated violin. I’d heard that there’s little straight violin to be heard on this album.

The biggest difference here was Foxx as he’s back in touch with his wilder, pre-Quiet Man artistic persona. Certainly this song of animal passion would have been out of place on any of his albums post-1977. But the subtext of animal attraction was just another way of parsing Foxx’s favorite Ballardian theme with the wild reclaiming the civilized. This time using a trope from the 20th century [“Me Tarzan – You Jane”] that’s even older than Foxx. When the “scandalous” faux-documentary “Mondo Cane” manifested in the lyric, the reconnection to the trash-culture roots of Foxx couldn’t be more direct.

As was the guitar of Robin Simon with his trademark Post-Punk flanging sounding like a snapshot of 1978. The climax where Foxx’s synths duel on the outro with his sharp riffage while Benge kept the New Wave backbeat was definitely my kind of throwback. This single [an edit of the LP mix currently on sale in The Maths’ Bandcamp store]  was less ragged than the first one had been; perhaps giving succor to those who were potentially aghast at the shift in tone from the usually reliable Foxx. But he said that this album was deliberately something that he found missing from his canon after his review of his body of work showed far more constraint than he imagined had been there, We’ll see how much more awaits us by July 27th.§

– 30 –

§ – Though technically I also have a third single that was released form this album in edit form with this one, which I’ve yet to play.

john foxx + the maths - the last time I saw you UK 7" sleeve

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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5 Responses to Record Review: John Foxx + The Maths – Tarzan + Jane Regained DL

  1. VersionCrazy says:

    While the potential for new posts is welcomed, I do hope that you stay well upon the return to work, Monk.

    It’s a good track this and I am excited about the album as a whole, but the main riff on this does remind me a lot of ‘Paradise Place, from Siouxsie and the Banshees’ ‘Kaleidoscope’ album…

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      VersionCrazy – “Paradise Place?” Not one of the tracks from “Kaleidoscope” that stays with me, but the overall tone was recalling John McGeoch for me. Not a radical thing in that Simon and he were primary Post-Punk Guitarists, who along with Keith Levene, did much to establish the vocabulary of the style.

      Unfortunately the county where I work has 20x the death toll from the one I live in. That votes Democratic. There. I said it.

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  2. The first single I thought was a little more Simon (and not enough Foxx), but this one balances the ratio back again. Very UV mk I and primal, which it is so great to see Foxx able to return to. Amazing how well Benge and Ms. Peel (we’re needed!) blend in with these two.

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  3. Andy B says:

    Like chasinvictoria I thought there was a little too much of Robin’s guitar on the first single. I do think the balance is just about right on this one.

    I’m so glad that John and Robin are working together again. I wrote on the official John Foxx website a few years ago that I’d love to see them work together again for at least one last time. I look forward to the album very much.

    My only disappointment with these download singles is that they could have included more interesting content. For the first single we got the single and album versions of the same track. Why give us the album version when we will be getting it again when we buy the album? This time we just get the single version. I read that more tracks were recorded than have been included on the album. Even if it was felt they weren’t strong enough for the album they could have been included as extra goodies as part of the download singles.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Andy B – The thought was to make a tight album like in the “old days.” Eight tracks and 35-40 minutes long. I find a lot to be desired when albums are edited down as if they were still going out on LP with 18-22 minutes a side. Simple Minds did this last time out and I didn’t think there was any filler. Any extra material may filter out later. Probably on compilations I suspect.

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