Jun 11, 2008

Fleet Foxes-Fleet Foxes

Seemingly effortless, yet hard to attain. Seemingly simplistic, yet eternally complex. Music totally bereft of artifice and gimmicks, but absolutely satisfying. Fleet Foxes have and do create music that contains a connection. It is music that doesn't strike you as being unique upon first listen, but after the tenth listen you are finding that a twentieth listen will only lead to another hundred listens. In other words, their music has a timeless quality, a non disposable quality. It is like fine wine, as opposed to cheap soft drink. It's like The Band, as opposed to No Age. Not to pick on No Age, for their album is quite good in its context. But I doubt I will be listening to "Eraser" in ten years time, where as I know I will be listening to "White Winter Hymnal" again and again in that time span. It's the power of a well written song. It is down to the beauty of the human voice. Well, a voice that carries stellar captivation. This album has created quite a buzz and if you listened to it for the first time and wasn't blown away, trust me, listen to it again and you will fall under its considerable magnetic spell.

Earlier this year Fleet Foxes gave us a taste of their talent with their first release under Sub Pop. "Sun Giant" was five songs of radiant pleasure. This self titled effort is their first full length release and it offers more of the same. But that is a good thing I believe. Golden melodies and gilded harmonies are an unbeatable combination. This album also has a seamless quality, each vivid and lush moment dovetails very nicely into the next. It doesn't give you sharp edges and ragged peaks, but rather a rather warm, fuzzy glow on the inside. "Sun It Rises" gets things going with ease, its vocals combusting before giving way to a soothing acoustic strum, which cedes to vibrant guitar. "White Winter Hymnal" is a nearly perfect demonstration of melody. It is 2.27 of superbly rendered harmony as the song tells the story of children falling into the snow. It has an almost breathless quality to add to the striking images on display. It is very easy to gush about each song on this warm and inviting album, but I will just give you some of the highlights. "Ragged Wood" is a great demonstration of the band's strength, luminous washes of guitar, delicate melody and those vocals. Oh, those vocals, the core of the band. Harmonies wash thoroughly on each track, surrounding the centre piece. Robin Pecknold's voice. The obvious comparisons have been made to Jim James and you can certainly hear them. But to me, these comparisons are useless and futile. This is Pecknold's voice, his throat muscles, born into him. The fact that they have a resemblance to the great James is something he has no control over. And it's not exactly a bad thing to be compared to anyway. So, that voice glows everywhere. "He Doesn't Know Why" is a an impassioned, gorgeous slice of harmonic pop, whilst "Heard Them Stirring" has an almost medieval quality, a gentle and delicate refrain. Then two of the strongest numbers appear near the back. "Your Protector" is a mournful, haunting tune that resonates strongly, whilst "Oliver James" contains one of the sweetest melodic lines you are likely to hear this year.

When I first listened to this album I found enjoyment came easy, but I needed to dig more to uncover its pleasures. That is because this is music to let wash over you. To play it once and then play it over and over again. The mellifluous sounds that emanate are quite irresistible, given time. And time will be extremely good to this piece of music. When other songs fade, the songs on display here will grow stronger with time. If you doubt this statement, come and see me here in a year or so. Myself and Fleet Foxes will be waiting for you. With a gentle smile and a contented heart.

MP3: White Winter Hymnal-Fleet Foxes

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