Fleet Foxes [Vinyl]
Seattle’s Fleet Foxes traffic in baroque harmonic pop. They draw influences from the traditions of folk, pop, choral, gospel, sacred harp making a song, West Coast music, traditional music from Ireland to Japan, film scores, and their NW peers. The subject material ranges from the wildlife and familial bonds to bygone loves and stone cold graves. “Supremely crafted and confident” – 8.7 – Pitchfork.
It’s now twenty years since grunge emerged from then culturally isolated Seattle and Fleet Foxes, the eponymous debut album from the city’s up to date heroes, demonstrates just how much American independent rock has mutated in that time. The five young members of Fleet Foxes make up a very different sort of rock band, describing their own music as “baroque harmonic pop jams”. Even that understates the depths of the quintet’s effortless vocal harmonies and gently woozy, folky feel. Of their contemporaries only the enigmatic Midlake and My Morning Jacket at their most fragile come close, but neither could have cooked up the Beach Boys spiritual of “White Winter Hymnal” or its more powerful companion piece “Ragged Wood”. If truth be told Fleet Foxes happily admit to aspiring to an earlier tradition–not just obvious antecedents like the Byrds, the Association, Neil Young and, especially, David Crosby’s famously unfocussed solo album If Only I Could Keep in mind that My Name but ancient English folk songs and their later American descendents. All were hunted and gathered from the web–songwriters Robin Pecknold and Skye Skjelset are barely in their twenties. Add a host of unlikely instruments and the results are stunning, the entire antithesis of mainstream stadium indie that has followed Arcade Fire. Still, the cover includes a Bruegel painting of peasants that might have graced any Black Sabbath sleeve. In that way a minimum of Fleet Foxes salute a local tradition. -Steve Jelbert
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