Music Reviews

posted: February 14, 2009


Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes

Sub Pop CD
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

If you’re one of those music fans who believe there’s nothing new under the sun and that truly original music merely consists of disparate elements thrown together, you might be more than a little challenged by the eponymous debut of the Fleet Foxes.   While this Seattle quintet calls their music “baroque harmonic pop jams,” I think it’s downright otherworldly, mixing a Weavers-style folk sensibility with Americana, country, ’60s psychedelia and a touch of Gregorian chant.  Listening to this music is like looking over your shoulder, and reliving the basest and most impressionistic memories you had of music back when you were a small child.

That’s the fun of the Fleet Foxes-trying to describe their charms to others.  (I know I’m supposed to be a professional, but that doesn’t make it any easier.)  One moment I hear the influence of Arthur Lee, as if this music was a 21st century answer to Forever Changes.  In songs like “Your Protector,” however, I’m reminded of the earnestly dramatic sound of mid-’60s Ennio Morricone soundtracks or even Scott Walker. Other times I hear a more sacred element, as if Fleet Foxes were a band of minstrels performing madrigals and hymns in an old abandoned church in the middle of a forest.  The sound quality is indeed that big, full of reverb and as wet as a drop of water at the bottom of the ocean.

If you’re thinking that the Fleet Foxes may be the crowning achievement of the trailing end of the Nu-folk Movement, then you may be selling them a little short.  It’s that timeless quality, best displayed in mournful songs such as “Heard Them Stirring” or the upbeat and hopeful “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” that makes me, a true music fan, look forward to the arc of progression this fascinating band achieves in future albums.  If you’ve grown rather bored with the current indie rock scene and its refusal to bring anything new to the folk or Americana genres, this just might the antidote.

–Marc Phillips