Impressive full length debut from enchanting Seattle-ites
Rating: 9 / 10
Colm Russell, 12 Jun 2008
Arriving on the scene surrounded by the kind of hype that can make people wary before they’ve even heard a note, the tentative billing of Seattle’s Fleet Foxes as “America’s next great band” has drawn swift parallels to previous holders of the title, Band Of Horses and My Morning Jacket.
Much like their bushy-bearded contemporaries, Fleet Foxes starting point is vintage country rock – that classic amalgam of The Band’s sprawling Americana and Neil Young’s wistful melancholy. Despite traversing such oft-trodden territory, there is a rich textural awareness to the band’s aesthetic that proves theirs to be a surprisingly sophisticated evocation of the American wilderness. The delicate a cappella harmonies and otherworldly spookiness of ‘Red Squirrel’ and ‘Heard Them Stirring’ lead us on an altogether more enlightened pilgrimage than usual.
It’s not just a journey through the past, mind. ‘Quiet Houses’ recalls Lost Souls-era Doves while ‘White Winter Hymnal’ congregates those sleepy high harmonies much favoured by The Shins. What truly separates Fleet Foxes from the pack is their capacity to colour emotional landscapes with the most gorgeous chord sequences. Nowhere is the payoff greater than on the sublime ‘Meadowlark’, a melodic wonderland of blurry polaroid atmospherics and cloudy nostalgia.
In the current era, characterised by a post-SXSW rush to devour the new, Fleet Foxes’ turn as band du jour will soon be up and these 11 hymns of timeless beauty are likely to remain overlooked and underheard. Which, let’s face it, is all the more reason to cherish them.
KEY TRACK: ‘MEADOWLARK’