I consider myself to be the biggest fan of Foushee, so when she released her sophomore album “softCORE” on Nov. 17, I was more than excited. Foushee is best known for her features on Vince Staples and Steve Lacy’s respective albums along with her vocal features on “Deep End Freestyle” by Sleepy Hallow, which seemingly took over the internet during the pandemic.
Pinning down a single genre for “softCORE” can be challenging as it merges multiple genres into one. Swinging from punk, to R&B, to pop sounds back and forth again creates a sort of uneven oscillation across the album’s length. Punching in at a rather meager 27 minutes, it doesn’t take long to finish the album and unfortunately, that’s a good thing.
Foushee’s often soft-spoken, airy vocals have been traded for a more aggressive punk sound where she channels her inner rage. Yelling over several tracks with the vibrato of a Nine Inch Nails cover band, she makes it clear that she’s tired of it all and is here for one thing: your money. Foushee’s never been a stranger to encouraging men to spend on her, but she cranks it up to an 11 by showcasing so much assertion, that it’s hard to believe she isn’t a financial dominatrix moonlighting as a singer.
This confidence serves Foushee well, especially when backed by good production. On songs like “Simmer Down” and “bored,” her confidence comes in tenfold as she screams about annoying men with pockets too shallow to keep her interest. A personal favorite “die” gives us the catchy chorus “I looked so good he died / N—- just shut up and drive,” over an electrifying EDM beat. Foushee’s main focus seems to be pinpointed on her frustrations with the people in her life. The wide variety of jarring and loud music is energizing enough to shake the average punk-pop fan to their core. But Foushee’s no Rico Nasty, and her contribution to the leather-clad punk-R&B scene pales in comparison to some of her fellow artists.
The biggest issue on this album is execution. At first, it’s a colorful homage to early 2000s/2010s punk-pop sound with cues from Avril Lavigne and Paramore. Sprinkle in a dash of EDM and alternative R&B, and you should get a recipe for success. However, the production and engineering feel sloppy and thrown together, as if it was produced by a team of angsty high school students. If this was her first album out of college or a collection of songs recorded and produced alone, it wouldn’t be a focal point. But Foushee, at 32, has connections to major producers and talents who are more than capable of such slipshod engineering. Her vocals are badly mixed on almost every song, taking an interesting idea and dragging it face-first across the length of a track. Foushee’s voice is powerful and strong, but by eclipsing it behind loud production it’s easy to miss almost every word said.
On what is arguably the best track, “Spend the Money (ft. Lil Uzi Vert),” Foushee has quinoa levels of bland and uninteresting writing that leads nowhere. She’s clearly taken notes from the greats and copied them, but it doesn’t feel like she understands what makes them appealing. Take these two lines for example: “How about a .40 clip, ooh, that’s a llama / Fousheé you’re an animal, f—ing on your mama.” In isolation, this may not seem like a bad line, but over the course of the song “stupid b—,” Foushee’s attempts at intimidation come off as overcompensating. None of her lines are cohesive in their subject matter, and it makes it hard to understand who she’s talking about, much less how she feels about them. Two things to be true at the same time, but Foushee’s Schrodinger-esque affection/hate towards male companionship is sloppily executed across the course of the album.
Foushee’s dedication to creating a punk-R&B album is admirable. Trading her soft-spoken vocals for something more aggressive and vibrant definitely commands your attention. But this album’s execution is far too rough to make it a standout hit, much less a sleeper. Switching between songs that could pass as moshpit sleepers and emotional crooning creates too big of a dissidence. Even with her best ideas, her failure to iterate on them makes them one-dimensional. With better production and engineering, the album would have been a massive step for Foushee in her budding career. But as it stands right now, it’s nothing more than a rough draft of interesting ideas.