It wasn’t long after Take the Kids Off Broadway was released that SoCal duo, Foxygen, got working on their second major full-length We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. Jonathan Rado and Sam France, who have been working together since high school, took west coast indie-pop lessons learned from their debut, polished them, and emerged with a more refined sound – a fresh simultaneous nod to their influences (Richard Swift, The Kinks, Shuggie Otis) and a valiant stab at resurrecting the daisy age. It was a small window of time to take on such an ambitious undertaking, and it works well. But only in that it offers a glimpse of their raw potential.

The album opens with “In the Darkness” which introduces what is supposed to be the main inspiration behind 21st Century Ambassadors – that aliens are using Foxygen to spread messages of peace. As indulgent as a concept as that is, it struggles to find footing throughout. Instead “In the Darkness” quickly transitions to “No Destruction,” which embraces the same concept, but in more practical ways:

No destruction in the waking hour
No destruction in the waking wind
No destruction in the waking hour
There’s no corruption in the waking moon

The sun-kissed libations echo at a relatively consistent pace, a testament to the creative direction and writing. But at times the fuzzy nature of the lyrics clash with the cleaner soundscapes. The instrumentation is patchworked in such obvious ways that the audible seams, where the styles are aligned, become glaring – jolting the lyrics out of context and thus losing their mystifying touch.

In contrast the cleaner sound does work at times, but only when they fully commit like they do on the lead single “Shuggie.” There you can clearly dissect their influences – the ode to Shuggie Otis at the tail end is a nice touch – while still enamored with a compelling storyline:

I met your daughter the other day, well that was weird
She had rhinoceros shaped earring in her ears
But hey man, have a soda, it’s on the house
Remember what I told you about the rooms inside this house

At just nine songs, however, there simply isn’t enough room for Foxygen to flesh out their ideas. It’s a convoluted statement, with the initial thread of aliens and peace getting lost in the mix. The album is more about their carefree lives as young, burgeoning artists and the love – which to be honest can be anything but peaceful – they’ve encountered along the way. “Oh Yeah” and “On Blue Mountain” bury themselves in the complicated nuances of those relationships, while the title cut and “Bowling Trophies” are mere soundscapes where lyrical clarity is anything but priority number one:

I’ve got a moving plan in my mind
I gots a moment, but it isn’t in mind
And if you wanna be about my all, take a number, baby get in line

That makes up nearly half the album – little room left to explore the depths of their ambitions. As a result the overall message loses direction. Eight months between albums isn’t a long time, and it shows here as Foxygen struggles to find their identity. Granted they’ve been doing this a long time, as far back as junior high. But how’s about a proper gestation period for their ambitions to catch up with their talents?