Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes

Close your eyes. Picture that it’s a summer afternoon in late August. You find yourself on top of a large hill in the countryside; lying in an open field of fresh green grass. The sky is clear, and you can feel the warm sun caressing your skin as a gentle breeze provides sweet relief on this hot and tired summer day. As you gaze up into the storm free skies, you slip away into daydreams and wish this day could be preserved and relived indefinitely.

Well, it can. Fleet Foxes has captured the essence of the perfect lazy summer day in their self-titled album. As I listen to the record I am happily transported to a time of simple pleasures.

Coming to our ears from Seattle, Wa., Fleet Foxes is the brainchild of Robin Pecknold and Skye Skjelset, who began writing music together in high school . When their music began to thirst for additional elements, they teamed up with Casey Wescott on keys, Christian Wargo on bass, and later Joshua Tillman on drums. Each player is vital for the music to survive, as maintaining the ever-weaving orchestral motion provides oxygen for the songs. They have since expanded their instrumental artillery even further to include woodwinds, the mandolin, and, of course, the ever present tambourine. The tambourine may not be novel, but my what a presence it has!

Self-described as “Baroque harmonic pop jams,” Fleet Foxes does not fall short when blending these genres together to create a mystical musical experience, though I would argue that their sound is more Renaissance influenced than Baroque. Fleet Foxes is reminiscent of early 1960’s folk rock with elements of bluegrass mixed in. Their thick layering of vocals creates a haunting hymn-like experience, which reaches perfection when coupled with the lush orchestration used throughout the album.

Fleet Foxes achieved a unified feel for their record without falling into the trap of monotony. One of my favorite songs on the album is “Blue Mountain Ridge.” It begins with mandolin, heavily influenced by late-Renaissance/early-Baroque music, and introduces matching vocal harmonies before launching into a much edgier modern feel…as edgy as folk rock can be. Japanese influences can be heard as well through the perpetual use of the pentatonic, which creates a delicious combination for hungry ears.

The final track of the record, “Oliver James,” takes a step back from the heavier instrumental elements and ends with a single voice. This is a brilliant decision because it leaves the listener feeling fresh as the album ends.

Fans of Iron & Wine will enjoy this band. While Fleet Foxes has a brighter sound, the two bands evoke a similar sense of peaceful freedom through themes of simplistic natural beauty. After listening to this record, it is clear to me that the members of Fleet Foxes do not simply play music; they are musicians. Their attention to detail and intelligent orchestration, as well as their seamless combinations of contrasting stylistic elements, make them quite a respectable musical force. I can only hope we will be taken along for more of their creative journey in the future.

Check out the Fleet Foxes myspace for tour dates and catch a show in a town near you. Also grab their album, in stores June 3rd on Sub Pop Records.

Fleet Foxes: myspace
SubPop: website | myspace



One Response

  1. […] Fleet Foxes: myspace | Fleet Foxes review […]

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