The Total Foxes

Retirement Community (n / a)

Phases and Stages

The Total Foxes

Retirement Community

It's not a stretch to imagine Total Foxes frontman Jerm Pollet living out Jonathan Richman's initial post-Modern Lovers vision of only playing high schools and hospitals. Instead of blowing eardrums, the Total Foxes' localized take on pop-punk puts Pollet's storytelling front and center, so the idea of gigging on the institutional circuit is hardly incongruous. Pollet's less expressive Jon Dee Graham rasp makes Richman sound like Placido Domingo, thus seriously undercutting the entire album, but he almost compensates for it with iconoclastic lyrical wit and attitude. Retirement Community's title track is a clever portrait of Austin as Sun City for thirtysomethings, complete with free Wi-Fi and coffee on every corner. Together with Ethan Azarian's "Captain of the Town," it ranks as one of the most astute songs about Austin in recent years. Pollet exhibits a nostalgic affinity for the anxious uncertainty of youthful congress in songs like "Monster in Tight Clothes," in which a canceled Halloween Kiss tribute show gives way to a consolatory make-out session. He walks in the shoes of a budding atheist being bar mitzvahed in "The Big Event" and compares his musical heroes to Civil War generals in "Johnston, Richman and Bragg." The Foxes' adherence to Pollet's left-field inclinations makes Retirement Community something only they could deliver.

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