For me personally, Fleet Foxes has never existed outside of 2008. This is partially due to its popularity at the time amongst a few angsty souls, and its rare capability to align with a very small and significant pocket of time (for me, it was the middle school-to-high school transition). Their melancholic, indie folk style was a welcome foundation for the other artists that would shape my appreciation of music and serve as allies during adolescent isolation (such as Bon Iver and Beirut).
However, emerging from their cinnamon-dusted hiatus that Robin Pecknold had once claimed would never end, Fleet Foxes have announced that they are, in fact, working on a shiny new third album. Though few details are available as yet, what we do know is that it might be titled Crack-Up, inspired by an F. Scott Fitzgerald essay of the same name, and has a “different vibe” to the band’s previous musical endeavours. Judging by this influence, we can assume that the new album may be more inclined toward raw and honest self-reflection. For instance, Fitzgerald’s essay includes observations such as these: “I realized that in those two years, in order to preserve something – an inner hush maybe, maybe not – I had weaned myself from all the things I used to love […]” Well, we can only hope that the new album is marginally more cheerful than this.
Fleet Foxes have had a brief but profound impact on the indie, folk and baroque pop world. Their introduction into our hearts and lives began around 2007, when illegal file-sharing was still possible and was attributed to the success of many bands (a fact noted by Pecknold himself).
Sun Giant, a collection of five tracks, was released in conjunction with their first, self-titled album, and was named best new music by Pitchfork. Sun Giant lends each track a momentary revelation of the overwhelming musical capabilities of Fleet Foxes, with the mournful Sun Giant leading to the comparatively upbeat Drops in the River.
Their ‘second’ album, a substantial eleven tracks, is a far vaster expression of the talents of Fleet Foxes. The most affiliation lies with White Winter Hymnal, a joyous tune despite the repetitive lyrics citing the decapitation of little creatures and the splattering of their blood on the snow. Other significantly brilliant tracks include the romantic and triumphant Your Protector, and the soft but courageous Oliver James.
Building on the fullness of their eponymous debut in 2008, Fleet Foxes released their second album in 2011 – the aptly titled Helplessness Blues. This album has the echoes of its predecessor, but utilizes to a greater extent the things that makes Fleet Foxes so wonderful – expressed perfectly in the exceptionally folksy Bedouin Dress, while The Plains / Bitter Dancer is more whimsical and reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel. The middle track is the album namesake, Helplessness Blues, and is easily the best track. It is passionate, vibrant and reflective (I was raised up believing / I was somehow unique / like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see) but ultimately a victory anthem: what good is it to sing helplessness blues / why should I wait for anyone else?
Fleet Foxes have proven their abilities to evolve across their albums, developing rich sounds that ease the soul. If this is any indication of what their new album might offer, it’s safe to assume that it will be a much-needed balm for these troubled times we live in. While we can agree it is never a good idea when someone announces they are reuniting with past lovers, Fleet Foxes is a rare and valuable exception to this rule. Anyway, you can brush up on your folk knowledge here and here (or on Spotify if you’re too trendy for the ‘Tube) to tide you over until the next album drops. In even more happy news, Fleet Foxes have also announced their first live show in five years. They will be taking the stage in July 2017 at the Bilbao Festival in Spain and hopefully giving fans a glimpse at their wonderful new project.