Foxes and Peppers - BLFC: A Musical Tail (Review)

Martin_Canine
FOXES AND PEPPERS
BLFC: A Musical Tail
★★★1/2☆

The letters BLFC stand for Biggest Little Fur Con, which is the third biggest furry convention in the United States. Now the word play in the album’s title, which sound like ripped straight out of the title of a 90s cartoon episode, probably make a lot more sense. In 2018, the convention, which had a new record with 5435 attendees, had a musical theme, which leads us to the 12 songs composed by Foxes and Peppers found on this album. Foxes, that’s Fox Amoore, a composer known mainly for soundtracks and score-like orchestral compositions. Peppers, that’s Pepper Coyote, the former lead singer, guitarist and main songwriter of the indie rock band Look Left who also released a solo album last year. Each one is musically gifted and started playing at age 5. They are both fairly well known in the furry community and already had a collaboration album in 2016, so it was fitting they would create the music to go along with the convention. The final direction of the style however does not feel like a combination of their individual styles, instead they aim for songs resembling traditional Broadway musical tunes. The different vocals are provided by Pepper Coyote himself, Shadowwolfen, Lilypad and Rhubarb. Multi-instrumentalists Rhubarb and Fox Amoore provide a rich instrumentation of brass, strings, piano, saxophone, organ and guitars (with percussion by a guy named Teddy and some additional guitar work by Pepper Coyote).

The premise of the album, as you might have guessed, is capturing the experience of attending a furry convention. While many aspects of the songs may apply to other kinds of conventions, like the ones about comics or anime, it is specifically about the furry ones, with numerous verbal references, inside jokes and parodies included. Personally, I never attended a convention of any kind, but from what I can tell by hundreds of stories I read over the years, the situations that the songs describe are fairly accurate. Although there is no continuous storyline, there are a few recurring characters (including a scene stealing woman who is only attending in order to get money from the art she’s selling there) and the record starts off with the attendees traveling to the con and ends with them leaving, taking home memories.

Like with every convention, it’s enchanting for those who fully give in to the subject matter, being surrounded by people who are just the same, while the average person might not get the appeal. BLFC: A Musical Tail is a story about fursuits, art commissions, dancing and being yourself. There are furries who travel from con to con, most of them for fun and because they have the time of their life feeling freed of social norms, others to make a living out of their art, which they offer there. And then there are others who rarely attend them, but each time it’s full of joy. What the album succeeds in is showing this variety of people, and also how it feels to them. A convention is a place where your role in society doesn’t apply and where you get full acceptance for who you are, it appears that time stops during the weekend that the con is held. Nevertheless, the album isn’t an overly dramatic one, or one that touches upon the philosophical benefits of such an event, as overall it’s a fun record with many humorous and very self ironic elements.

Power is the album’s undisputed highlight. It’s wild, it’s anthemic, and it’s also one of the few… no, the only song that also works out of context. It’s essentially about a guy who is only of many people in the crowd but wants the attention of the main attraction. This is perfect rock song you would accept from your favorite power pop band. Realization is also noteworthy as it’s the only not all too light hearted moment on the album. In it, one person hoped that the convention would help him out of the bitterness of his life, but it didn’t work out. One Weekend, which introduces the individual types of con-goers, has something of a great character entry song, much like Dammit Janet or Rent.

In contrast, Stitches, a song about getting a fursuit, is one of the lesser lyrical moments of the album. Not only do words like “oh my god, holy crap” don’t quite fit the fully orchestrated sound, it also feels a bit awkward to hear a devoted love anthem for clothing or costumes of any kind, although it’s clearly meant to be over the top for humorous effect. And if you ever wanted to know how the German schlager genre sounded like before 1990, listen to Hey Buddy and you’ll remotely know, although that surely wasn’t the intention. Both are not necessarily bad tunes, but they are deep in “strange” territory.

But all in all, BLFC: A Musical Tail is a fun music adventure from furries for furries, more specifically con attending ones. Those who this description applies to might recognize themselves in some lines and then smile brightly. And for the others, there is wonderfully composed music and lyrics that might make you curious.

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