A full 15 years following its initial April 2006 release, this album remains a brave and beautiful piece of work. Yet, personally, it’s a painful one to revisit.
“I want a copy of that record on the bus — tonight!” It was the latest command from the demanding rock star for whom I was working on tour as a personal assistant — a gig for which I clearly was uniquely unqualified. As I struggled to perform the most basic daily tasks with even the slightest smidge of competence, I realized quickly, this was NOT the rock and roll “party” I thought I’d signed up for. “It’s that song that goes, ‘Hate me! Hate me! Hate me!’” the rock star barked out repeatedly. “Do whatever you gotta do. Just do it!”
Being on a major American concert tour presented me with few ops in which to operate in the “normal” world. But despite the rock star’s continued private (and public) reminders of my incompetence and worthlessness, I didn’t always fail. Usually, but not always.
In short order, I bolted to the arena’s production office and dispatched one of the venue’s runners to the local Best Buy store and to acquire a copy of the new record, which I’d never heard of, by the new band I’d never heard of. And that night, by the time the rock star returned to the bus for his after-show dinner, a copy of Foiled by the Texas-based brigade Blue October had been placed aboard the bus. Little did I know, it would become one of the most personally impactful records of my life.
At the ripe old age of 43, I finally was living the wild sex, drugs & rock and roll reality I’d fantasized about since my youth. And Foiled would become my personal constant companion throughout the experience — the soundtrack for the crazed summer of 2006. The CD played ad nauseam on the tour bus during my newly-embraced nightly drug regimen — the songs still playing in my head like little reels of tape the next morning. And it blasted frequently on a boom box during long, mundane afternoons backstage.
I also couldn’t help but notice the record’s first two infectious singles; “Hate Me” and “Into the Ocean” piping in via popular local rock radio stations (over outdoor venue sound systems) at our various concert destinations, as I combed the incoming crowd each night, “tagging” after-show “chicks” for my rock star employer. And when the gig got the best of me, Foiled provided a sort of welcomed therapy, as I visited the record daily during my two-week, at-home recovery period following my “little” tour-related “breakdown.”
Produced by David Castell (Deep Blue Something, The Toadies) and Patrick Leonard (Jewel, Bon Jovi, Leonard Cohen) along with the band’s frontman and chief songwriter, Justin Furstenfeld, Foiled was a trove of dark and dangerously seductive songs — oozing authentic Peter Gabriel-style appeal and modern-day Marillion-like allure.
Combining irresistible melodies with engaging, often disturbing poetry, the dysfunctional love songs, “You Make Me Smile” and “She’s My Ride Home” made for mighty standouts. And when Furstenfeld revealed his own battle with the bottle while dealing with the loss of his mother in the brutally transparent lyrics of “Hate Me,” he spoke to me on a deeply personal level — ripping the scabs off my own emotional wounds, as if he was telling my story.
Glossed with magical vocals from electro-pop pioneer, Imogen Heap, “Congratulations” was a particularly delicate, golden highlight, while “Overweight” and “X Amount of Words” continue to be crisp, compelling earworms that still “find” me frequently when I least expect it — often in the middle of the night.
The platinum-selling set remains an intense and effective personal vessel, capable of transporting me instantly back to a conflicted point in my life — traumatic times, playing out in incredible locales and starring unforgettable people, many of who I likely (and hopefully) never will see again. In sum, Foiled continues to be an “everlasting friend” — one who gleefully pours me shots, yet also is willing to hold my hair back while I heave. And that’s one heckuva heartfelt endorsement.
Foiled Track Listing:
1. You Make Me Smile (4:21)
2. She’s My Ride Home (4:41)
3. Into the Ocean (3:59)
4. What If We Could (4:03)
5. Hate Me (6:20)
6. Let It Go (4:03)
7. Congratulations (4:01)
8. Overweight (4:24)
9. X Amount of Words (4:14)
10. Drilled a Wire Through My Cheek (4:32)
11. Sound of Pulling Heaven Down (4:42)
12. Everlasting Friend (4:05)
13. 18th Floor Balcony (4:32)
Run Time: 57:57
Release Date: April 4, 2006
Record Label: Universal