11 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Sub Pop, the same label that introduced the world to grunge, would turn around nearly two decades later and give us grunge’s placid antidote with Fleet Foxes’ transcendent self-titled debut album. The band’s baroque, bucolic indie folk couldn’t sound further away from the caffeinated buzz of Seattle—or any modern city for that matter. Instead, Fleet Foxes plants us in a woodsy, whimsical fairytale set sometime between the Renaissance (the album’s cover is a 1559 piece from Dutch painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder) and some distant sylvan future.

The album opens at dawn with a playful a capella chant that leads into sweet Americana: “Sun risin’ over my head,” lead singer Robin Pecknold draws out hypnotically, his voice and guitar awash in reverb as warm as the sun soaking a wide-open field. The band builds from this beauty on “White Winter Hymnal,” with its echoing tom-toms enveloped in layered vocal harmonies that create an organic surround-sound feel, and the dynamic “Ragged Wood,” which pieces together shimmering strings for a spirited stop-and-go chase through the forest. The stunning wall-of-sound effect throughout—bolstered by instruments like the autoharp and Chinese zither and the quintet’s own sacred-harp singing—reaches its peak on “Heard Them Stirring,” a humming reverie that earning them Beach Boys comparisons without the need for lyrics.

Still, just as the Bruegel cover reveals the devil’s in the details, darkness pervades the album: The hushed acoustic stunner “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” speaks of demons and deadly premonitions, while the flute-adorned “Your Protector” has us running with the devil at a heart-pounding pace. All of it—the earthly sounds and unearthly visions—linger long after, just like Pecknold’s final haunting howl on closer “Oliver James.”

Apple Digital Master

EDITORS’ NOTES

Sub Pop, the same label that introduced the world to grunge, would turn around nearly two decades later and give us grunge’s placid antidote with Fleet Foxes’ transcendent self-titled debut album. The band’s baroque, bucolic indie folk couldn’t sound further away from the caffeinated buzz of Seattle—or any modern city for that matter. Instead, Fleet Foxes plants us in a woodsy, whimsical fairytale set sometime between the Renaissance (the album’s cover is a 1559 piece from Dutch painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder) and some distant sylvan future.

The album opens at dawn with a playful a capella chant that leads into sweet Americana: “Sun risin’ over my head,” lead singer Robin Pecknold draws out hypnotically, his voice and guitar awash in reverb as warm as the sun soaking a wide-open field. The band builds from this beauty on “White Winter Hymnal,” with its echoing tom-toms enveloped in layered vocal harmonies that create an organic surround-sound feel, and the dynamic “Ragged Wood,” which pieces together shimmering strings for a spirited stop-and-go chase through the forest. The stunning wall-of-sound effect throughout—bolstered by instruments like the autoharp and Chinese zither and the quintet’s own sacred-harp singing—reaches its peak on “Heard Them Stirring,” a humming reverie that earning them Beach Boys comparisons without the need for lyrics.

Still, just as the Bruegel cover reveals the devil’s in the details, darkness pervades the album: The hushed acoustic stunner “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” speaks of demons and deadly premonitions, while the flute-adorned “Your Protector” has us running with the devil at a heart-pounding pace. All of it—the earthly sounds and unearthly visions—linger long after, just like Pecknold’s final haunting howl on closer “Oliver James.”

Mastered for iTunes
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Ratings and Reviews

4.6 out of 5
1.6K Ratings

1.6K Ratings

Moon Kil Sun ,

My Morning Foxes

Don't get me wrong. I dig the music on this disc. All the ooh's and aaah's, etc. I'm not sure I totally get everyone's Beach Boys comparisons but I think I know where there are going. This is a solid cd from start to finish but I cannot help but think of Jim James from My Morning Jacket, it's too uncanny. When Band of Horses came out (coincidentally on Sub Pop as well), I had the same feeling, good cd but a complete My Morning Jacket rip off. Unfortunately, I feel the same about this band. The singer's voice is too similar. It even is layered and echoed to mimic Jim James to a tee. The chanting gets to be a bit much and I'm all for chanting and harmony, but it is so repetitive here, I wish they were a bit more instrument driven at points vs harmonies. There are wondrous songs: the obvious White Winter Hymnal and then Quiet Houses but the real gem here is He Doesn't Know Why, something about it just gets to me and then there is this reprise, so pretty. Pick up the disc but if you're familiar with My Morning Jacket, which I am sure you are, there won't be too many surprises here.

Farce the Music ,

Beautiful

Enough with the elementary MMJ comparisons. That's a knee jerk comparison. Sure the vocals approximate JJ, but the music isn't similar, nor is the subject matter, and it's been at least 2 albums since MMJ put out anything this good.... if then. This is gourgeous. Folk indie rock with the best harmonies I've heard in ages. I don't frequently delve into Pitchfork approved indie rock, but this lives up the the hipster hype. Absolutely stunnng. Could end up in my top 5 of the year. For fans of Band of Horses and Sun Kil Moon.

ChewingGumForTheEars ,

Another great folk album for 2008

So far, this year has produced some of my favorite folk albums, and Fleet Foxes is one of them. From start to finish, this album is fantastic. The band is remarkably talented for being so young; I can only imagine what these guys are capable of going forward.

The vocal harmonies and cool organ and guitar arrangements seem to set this music back about thirty or forty years, but at the same time it seems new and fresh. There are a dozen different direct influences at work here. When I first listened, I heard traces of The Byrds, Beach Boys and Jethro Tull, but Fleet Foxes combine them into something remarkable and brilliant. The melodies are complex and catchy at the same time, while the lyrics about nature, life, and death fit perfectly.

I highly recommend this to anyone that likes new folk music.

Favorite Tracks: White Winter Hymnal, He Doesn't Know Why, Your Protector

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