Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes (Sub Pop '08) Rating: A-
Received rapturously by critics and many music fans, especially in the indie community (think Pitchfork), the Fleet Foxes' self-titled debut album sold well as a result. You see, it is still possible to be successful simply by writing and recording good music, without any preconceived gimmicks. There's nothing especially original about the band, in fact they remind me a lot of My Morning Jacket's mellower moments circa At Dawn or It Still Moves only not as epic. Actually, at first I thought this album was a bit boring, and I still think that the songs tend to blend into each other, but I've found this to be a real "grower" of an album that's perfect for drifting off to sleep to (yes that's a compliment). The band themselves refer to their "baroque harmonic pop jams," and while I agree with the first part, as the band's at times baroque arrangements (they can go quite sparse as well and often do) and lovely harmonies are highlights, these are most definitely well-written songs rather than jams. The best thing I can say about these songs, all written by group leader and lead singer Robin Pecknold, is that they have a timeless quality, whether sounding like a campfire sing along ("Sun It Rises"), a spiritual incantation ("Quiet Houses"), haunting choral pop ("Heard Them Stirring"), lullaby-like ("Meadowlarks"), almost a capella ("Oliver James") or more fleshed out and livelier ("Ragged Wood," arguably the album's best song). I didn't even mention the album's two singles, "White Winter Hymnal" and "He Doesn't Know Why," fine songs both, but then again this is an album that's meant to be listened to in its entirety. Above all else, above memorable, highly individualistic songs (again not really a strength), this album has a gorgeously melancholic, sun drenched vibe (Brian Wilson would be proud) that will almost certainly age well.

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