Fleet Foxes’ get heavy

Apr 202011
Authors: Michael Elizabeth Sakas

Fleet Foxes’ self-titled debut folked out the indie music scene in 2008, with its influential use of layered vocals and acoustic instruments. The band’s newest album “Helplessness Blues” will do the same for 2011, but while some listeners might enjoy it for its seemingly simple beauty, others will discover how deep the band has gone over the last three years.

Leading man Robin Pecknold’s vocal skills are luscious and rich, sung strongly and loud, as if he is trying to be heard in the middle of a windy field without a microphone.

What he is saying will greatly resonate with those who listen and share Pecknold’s same life worries.

On the first track “Montezuma,” Pecknold thinks aloud, “So now I am older than my mother and father, when they had their daughter, now what does that say about me?”

No longer are Fleet Foxes hiding their songs’ meanings through pretty metaphors; they are facing the uncertainty of both living and death. Although they sing in the first person, their songs are moving and relatable.

In a similar style to the newest material from fellow folk artist Iron & Wine, the band adds layers of jazzy flute and fiddle to their usual use of acoustic guitar.

Each song has a similar pattern. Quieter moments build to exhilarating highs as Pecknold’s hollow sound is met with a multitude of classical instruments being played to their limits.

It echoes the theme of the album — quiet reflection followed by fleeting moments of realization.

While they contemplate the future, they also romanticize and reminisce about the past. “Remember when you had me cut your hair? Call me ‘Delilah’ then, I wouldn’t care,” Pecknold sings on “Sim Sala Bim,” the third track.   

On “Blue Spotted Tail,” the big question is asked, “Why is life made only for to end? Why do I do all this waiting then?”
But they find peace in nature with their final song, “Grown Ocean:” “In that dream, I’m as old as the mountains. Still as starlight reflected in the fountains then.”

_Through their beautiful folk style and heavy lyrics, Fleet Foxes’ newest album is just as worthwhile as their first.
Music reviewer Michael Elizabeth Sakas can be reached at verve@collegian.com._

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