Fleet Foxes like to take their time with this just their third album since their 2008 debut. They also spawned Father John Misty onto the world but let's not blame them for that. This meticulous approach to their song craft generally yields good results as was proved by the excellent 'Helplessness Blues'. Expect a dense, lush and ambitious album, lead track the eight minute ‘Third of May / Ōdaigahara’ is certainly all of these things.
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The office folks thought it would be a good idea to get me to review a popular ethereal folk rock record, but they should have known it would be a fool’s errand. I mean, it’s been 6 years. Fronthuman Robin Pecknold has been to uni and scored a couple of theatre shows since then, and his ex drummer has gone on to become music’s capital douchebag. It’s fair to say we’re living in different times now; does anyone still care for these pastoral freaks?
I know what you’ve heard, and it’s true. I went to Salt Lake City to find a Pecknold and convince him to come out of hiding, reform the group and release another album of Neil Young / Brian Wilson worship. I even told him not to include any dodgy songs about women, but here he is, continuing the tradition with ‘Kept Woman’. I presume this is the same woman who he condemned to eternally “run the store” in 2011’s ‘Helplessness Blues’. That’s a bit harsh, I know, it’s probably trying to give the opposite message and is actually a highlight of the album with its familiar acoustic / piano arpeggios with his soft reverbed voice soaring above in glorious harmony with his bandmates. Music for wandering around some fields or forest to.
Both me and the other Robin who is always crooning into my ears agree that this is a messy album. From the way every song feels like a collection of sketches shoved together to some adventurous chord changes that lie on the boundary of awkwardness, it has a lot going on and not all of it makes total sense but it’s bloody beautiful. Hey, at least the weirdness helps distance them further from Mumford & Sons. The instrumental arrangements are nice and def expanded upon from previous efforts - he even sings in a lower register at a few moments which is most welcome. Strings lilt, acoustic guitars get chopped and screwed, and sections abruptly cut to quiet. ‘Mearcstapa’, wow. ‘Fool’s Errand’ is silly.
8 cuz it loses a point for being a bit all over the place, and another for being the exact thing that people probably hate about Fleet Foxes.
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