I have never met anyone else outside of my family who has heard of “Moxy Früvous,” which makes sense. As a 90s politically satirical folk-pop band from Canada, I could see how it could be a niche category of music. Yet Früvous’ soaring harmonies, intelligent political commentary, and beautiful vocals, combined with some really weird, random bits has something for everyone.
Active from 1989-2000, Dave Matheson, Murray Foster, Mike Ford, and Jian Ghomeshi were known and loved for riotous concerts with impromptu comedic interludes and their close relationships with fans. Underscored by accordions, banjos, and an occasional harmonica, their tracks show a unique ability to go from laugh-out-loud teasing of conservative politicians to love songs that bring tears to your eyes. From my family’s car cassette tapes to your Spotify, here are some of Moxy Früvous’ highlights:
1. “Michigan Militia”
The “Michigan Militia” is, to put it kindly, a paramilitary organization founded in the 90s by Americans arming themselves to prevent the federal government from infringing their rights. Sound familiar? This satirical tune about a militiaman and his comrades could have been written in the past couple of months, especially with the lyric: “America first/ the rest get the pieces.”
This is a great example of the band’s high-energy, harmony-filled vocals, with a splash of the tribulations of love and a pinch of social commentary.
3. “Gulf War Song”
Sung acapella, this is one of Früvous’ most beautiful and touching songs, examining the different sides of the Gulf War and war itself from the view of those who have recently become adults. The message (unfortunately) is still relatable today: “And history seems to agree, that I would fight you for me/ That us would fight them for we/ Is that how it always will be?”
4. “You Will Go To The Moon”
This 50s-style, acapella piece is really just a energetic number with (a little bit of) commentary on the commercialization of space! Fun fact, this song was once used to wake up the crew on the Space Shuttle Discovery during a 1997 mission. NASA approved!
5. “Stuck in the 90s”
The members of Früvous, if you couldn’t tell already, are unabashedly progressive and not huge fans of the 90s. From their first full-length album, Bargainville, released in 1993, this song will resonate with many liberals reluctant to find themselves stuck in the 2010s. Is Früvous making fun of you, too? Probably. I still haven’t figured it out, but the harmonica makes up for it.
6. “The Greatest Man in America”
These Canadians make fun of Rush Limbaugh. It includes the lyric “Hundreds of years from now they’ll celebrate Rush-mas/And Rush-ashana for the Jews,” so enjoy.
7. “River Valley”
The calm guitar and vocals can lull you into this song, but the lyrics themselves include a warning about dangers of being lulled into inaction. The combination doesn’t come off as preachy, though, even with the lyric “Do you think you’ll have some power signing a petition?”
8. “The Incredible Medicine Show”
Posing as salesmen for cosmetic enhancements, the band croons, “We can correct what nature supplies/’Cause beauty is something money buys,” for a soothing, albeit a little creepy song.
9. “Fell in Love”
Based on the previous tracks, it doesn’t seem like these guys could pull off a soft, love ballad, but it was actually difficult for me to choose a favorite from their romantic sets. Here, again, their naked vocals shine through with a soft backing of a guitar and tambourine that creates a song you won’t easily get out of your head.
10. “King of Spain”
I can’t explain this, you just have to listen to it. It’s a bop, though. I promise.
Image Credits: Photo: Daniel Varghese