Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes

Part of the reason why Fleet Foxes is such an amazing band is because it has deeply encompassed itself in themes, roots and ideas that are ideal recipes for creating wonderful music. Singer and chief songwriter Robin Pecknold states, “All we strove for with this record was to make something that was an honest reflection of who we are, citizens of the western United States who love all kinds of music and above all else love singing.” The group has succeeded in delivering a lush and varied outlook of the U.S. and their love of/for music is paramount on Fleet Foxes.

The opener, “Sun it Rises” begins and ends with dazzling a capella that recalls Brian Wilson’s work with The Beach Boys. The music has a hollow rustic feel that is beautifully filled in with the band members ‘voices. It swells and grows into a flourishing piece of music that’s equal parts Celtic and Gregorian. “White Winter Hymnal” follows with a captivating cyclical harmony that is magnificently composed and executed. Rolling tom drums arrive before the band repeats the opening harmony again. These foxes have proven that there are in fact dual definitions to the word harmony. The band loves to play and sing together and that clearly flows through the music. As they sing their five-part harmony, it oozes of camaraderie, amity and love — it’s remarkable.

Their EP from this year, Sun Giant, was a luminous introduction and as I reviewed it, it only made me more and more excited for this debut. Fortunately, none of those songs are repeated and everything on this LP is a work of genius. The longest song, “Ragged Wood,” tumbles and plunges with a radiantly shimmering guitar line and a vocal line that reminisces My Morning Jacket’s It Still Moves. Except here, the added harmonies are utterly unmatched. A heavenly harp begins “Blue Ridge Mountains” before the band harmonizes again and this time Pecknold sounds a lot like Thom Yorke. The song is driven by an acoustic guitar and tinkling piano but when the entire band steps in, it’s completely transcendent. Pecknold’s voice is magical and indescribably picturesque; when he sings louder and you feel his emotion throughout your entire body, it’s chillingly breathtaking.

The pristine production by Phil Ek is a nice counterpart to the band’s wide-open melodies, especially on the pounding and enriching, “Quiet Houses.” And once the chugging drums of “He Doesn’t Know Why” end, the song closes with a reflective coda guided by a gospel-influenced piano. With “Oliver James” the band captures all of their assets to deliver a superb closer. Starting and ending with Pecknold’s elevating lungs, everything in between — the picking acoustic guitar, the soft drumming and driving bass — is evidence of real musicians at work.

These are songs that will move you beyond words and it’s inspiring that a band can sound this excellent, so early. Themes of unity, togetherness and accord are scarcely found in music today. A lot of times albums are hashed and compiled as if they are a collection of songs. And ultimately, there is a lacking sense of harmony; so it’s just that much sweeter when a band is able to craft a cohesive, warm, gorgeous album from top to bottom — one that is stunning in every sense of the word. With their self-titled debut, Fleet Foxes have attained this and have delivered one of the best albums of the year.