Forgotten Friday: Moxy Früvous

I’ve been watching The Sing-Off lately, which is NBC’s a cappella singing competition, and it’s reminded me of one of my favorite a cappella groups: Moxy Früvous.

Well, okay, they’re not exactly an a cappella group, though they had many a cappella songs. And I’m not even sure they really belong in Forgotten Friday, because I’m sure up in their native Canada they’re not at all forgotten. However, Moxy Früvous was never really well known down here in the States, and therefore I feel they’re worth writing about.

Moxy Früvous formed in 1989 and was very active in the 1990s before finally calling it quits in 2000. The group had four members, Jian Ghomeshi, Murray Foster, David Matheson and Mike Ford, and came together in Toronto. They released their first album, Bargainville, in 1993 and followed it up with a new album nearly every year.

It’s very easy to compare Moxy Früvous to their fellow Canadians, the Barenaked Ladies. After all, both groups were known for their folk pop sound and their quirky sense of humor. Certainly, Moxy Früvous were often unapologetically silly onstage, recording songs about Spanish kings living undercover in Canada and setting Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham to music. But Früvous had a political side as well. They had no problem criticizing Canadian politicians in songs like “Big Fish” or examining the futility of war in the beautiful “Gulf War Song.”

But for my money, where they really shined was in their harmonizing. It’s rare that pop groups can harmonize flawlessly, but Moxy Früvous could layer their songs like a barbershop quartet, and frequently did, bringing warmth and texture to their sound…and fun.

It’s a shame I didn’t discover the group until well after they broke up. Consider me one of the many hoping that they’ll reunite one of these days. Can you blame me? After all, this is what they sounded like…

The nearly a cappella “King of Spain” was their first hit. Just try getting it out of your head!

The other side of Früvous. The haunting, tragic “Drinking Song.”