Review Summary: Fleet Foxes awe and impress with their 2008 debut.
I have to admit I wasn't impressed when I heard Fleet Foxes
for the first time. The music didn't jump out and grab me, and the melodies didn't particularly excite me. Still, I was intrigued by their charm and decided to give the album a real chance. Immediately I was blown away by the depth and beauty of their songs, and even more shocked to find out that this was their debut. For a band a mere two years old, they show incredible maturity and talent.
The record opens up with "Sun it Rises," which sounds like what I can only describe as a southern prison chain-gang song. The three and four-part harmonies set the tone for the rest of the album, as rich and original harmonies would become commonplace as you continue through it. "White Winter Hymnal" showcases frontman Robin Pecknold's songwriting abilities, with an instant classic that is essentially a huge harmony part with charming innocent lyrics: ...and Micheal you would fall, and turn the white snow red as strawberries in the summertime...
For a band this young, it's awesome that they can be so confident in displaying a bleeding child as something charming and fun. The album continues with "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song,"a beautiful song about regret and disappointment. Easily my favorite of the record, the chorus is incredibly catchy while at the same time being beautiful, somber, and sinister at times.
Most of the songs are very catchy and easily accessible, and could be played on the Radio to great success. "He Doesn't Know Why," "The Protector," and "Ragged Wood" especially are all incredibly catchy radio-friendly songs that have their own essence and charm. More harmony and melody at work in these songs, along with some very peculiar endings. "He Doesn't Know Why" closes with a random piano chord progression and the sound of a door closing, which is very cool.
As the end of the album nears, the songs get much more somber with more complex melodies and lyrics. "Meadowlark" showcases an amazing organ part with incredible harmonies strewn perfectly over it. Finger-picking guitar emerges as the organ and vocal harmonies fade into Pecknold crooning about Humming Birds and the mythical Meadowlark. "Blue Ridge Mountains" continues this trend at first, but seemingly out of nowhere turns into a rock ballad with an amazing chorus and piano melody. "Oliver James" closes out the album with a heart-wrenching track about a young boy drowning and his mother's resulting despair. Pecknold's lyrics are at his best in this song, even the second verse:
On the kitchen table that your grandfather did make
You and your delicate way will slowly clean his face
And you will remember when you rehearsed the actions of
A innocent and anxious mother full of anxious love
I almost miss young Oliver James and I feel deep sorrow for his mother. How a band so young can convey such emotion in a song is incredible in itself, yet they do it with their own originality and uniqueness. In conclusion, this album is a must-have for any Alt/Indie listener, or pretty much anyone. The music is very accessible yet still very deep and original. Get used to Fleet Foxes, because they are going to be around for a long time.