Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes


3.0
good

Review

by Lewis P. STAFF
June 6th, 2008 | 286 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: For what it’s worth, Fleet Foxes have made an earnest start to the summer, but they shouldn’t define the year with it.

Fleet Foxes shouldn’t be a difficult bunch to write about. Following their Sun Giant EP (which saw a release earlier this year) with their self-titled debut, Fleet Foxes is the album that I was fully expecting: an unabashed neo-folk summer album, rooted in Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys with comparisons almost exclusively reserved to Crosby, Stills and Nash. Like the album, these comparisons should be taken lightly, since Fleet Foxes seems to be in a league all its own in terms of structure, especially for a debut and especially for a band only two years out of the gate.

So why, exactly, is it so difficult to write about Fleet Foxes? I’ve been working my way through the locomotive refrain of “Ragged Wood” and smoky tales of “Meadowlarks” for weeks, hoping each time that the impact is stronger than the last. It’s obvious that this debut is the work of musicians with a long lifespan in front of them (the oldest is 21), and the delicacies to Fleet Foxes are plentiful. But for their first major outing, following a less finely-polished EP, Fleet Foxes have created what really amounts to window dressings: songs that lure us in, tuck us into bed, and stumble to keep us there. With Sun Giants, the songs came off as folk defined by the sheen of indie pop; in Fleet Foxes, the band ups that ante and gains an annoying precociousness in the process.

Which isn’t to say that Fleet Foxes is anything other than a warranted listen. Opener "Sun It Rises” begins with a country-folk sing-a-long tactic before smoothly transitioning into the reverb-washed acoustic guitars, frontman Robin Pecknold’s angelic vocals treating every passage like a hymn. This style seems exasperated by the second track, the appropriately titled “White Winter Hymnal,” but the poppy vocal melodies that become an almost obsessive point of reference for the album are infectious. The spacious, suspended textures in “Heard Them Stirring” make appropriately suspenseful folklore, while a last act progression into rollicking sunny melodies is hampered only by the layers of Pecknold’s wails. He’s positively charming in “Your Protector,” a glorified western complete with his wispy sermonizing: “You run with the devil.”

But once you’ve made it past all the meticulous chord progressions, all the smoky refrains, and all the ways a verse can be textured, there’s not much to dig into with Fleet Foxes. There are a great number of chances for these guys to wring emotion out of their sturdy Americanized folk-rock and there are few that they actually take. The piercing clean-picking in “Blue Ridge Mountains” is a bright spot in an otherwise forgettable tune, Pecknold standing on the threshold of becoming just another thin layer to the window dressing. In “He Doesn’t Know Why,” a flavorful track lined with pianos and filled to the brim with passion, Pecknold grabs a hold of the last act and its battle march with gusto, but he fails to make it stick, and it’s artfully undermined by a eastern-influenced piano outro.

Much has been made about the album’s closer, the beautifully barren “Oliver James,” and for good reason. It’s the one track that resonates emotionally throughout the shallow Fleet Foxes, Pecknold drawing a stark cynicism to his cries that brings attention to the dark melody. Had the rest of the album followed a similar path, finding footing in a more downplayed setting, it might have come across as something more than the pretty shell it is. There’s a huge promise to Fleet Foxes, one that can’t be ignored, but Pecknold and the rest of the guys haven’t tapped into it yet. For what it’s worth, Fleet Foxes is an earnest start to the summer, but shouldn’t define the year when it ends.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 6th 2008


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

White Winter Hymnal, Sun it Rises, and Your Protector are my early favorites. I don't know if I'd say this is as low as a 3, but I don't think it's worth the 87 it gets on metacritic.

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

Doppelganger
June 6th 2008


3124 Comments


Saw this in Rolling Stone. Do not know if want.

ohcleverhansyou
June 6th 2008


885 Comments


I was pretty impressed by the EP, but I'm still debating whether or not to get the full CD.

AggravatedYeti
June 6th 2008


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Sun Giant was pretty sweet and so far Im really liking this.


IsItLuck?
Emeritus
June 6th 2008


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm still gonna pick this up probably

Eliminator
June 6th 2008


2067 Comments


pitchfork

McP3000
June 6th 2008


3941 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

album cover reminds me of Person Pitch for some strange reason

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
June 7th 2008


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it reminds me of it too

Eliminator
June 7th 2008


2067 Comments


it doesnt remind me of it check out how unique eliminator is tbh

iarescientists
June 7th 2008


5863 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

gay

Eliminator
June 7th 2008


2067 Comments


dark poontide

Mendigo
June 7th 2008


2299 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this is more or less on par with the Sun Giant EP in my ears, it's definitely worth getting. it's amazing that this is an debut, the band sounds extremely self-confidently and know exactly what they're doing. but of course, it's not music for everyone :/

songs that lure us in, tuck us into bed, and stumble to keep us there

exactly that's what I like about it ;)

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 7th 2008


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

first three tracks are ace. Then it all starts melding together.

plane
Staff Reviewer
June 7th 2008


6094 Comments


but of course, it's not music for everyone :/

yes, this music obviously isn't for me

Eliminator
June 7th 2008


2067 Comments


obviously you cant comprehend fleet foxes fleeting music of foxxery its too bad really you couldve been cool

iarescientists
June 7th 2008


5863 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

guys i listen to radiohead i think i can understand this kind of music!

Mendigo
June 7th 2008


2299 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

what does radiohead have to do with fleet foxes?

Eliminator
June 7th 2008


2067 Comments


what doesnt radiohead have to do with fleet foxes? where do you think they got their name

iarescientists
June 7th 2008


5863 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i'm sorry mendigo i didn't know retards were allowed to own computers

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 7th 2008


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Oliver James is missing from the tracklist



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