With a flood of positive media attention at their doorstep, Fleet Foxes have plenty to be proud of, and given the strength of the Seattle quintet's full-length debut on Sub Pop Records, they have every right to feel the way they do.
The band's sound stands somewhere around the crossroads of the vocal harmonization mastery of Crosby, Stills and Nash, the nature-inspired soundscapes of Sparrows Swarm and Sing, and the irreverent reverence of the O Brother, Where Art Thou?
soundtrack, but their craft is much more than the sum of their parts. The band creates a indie-folk rock sound that is entirely their own, and sounds incredibly fresh because, well, it is.
On opener "Sun It Rises", the band cacophanously caterwauls the opening lyrics without instrumental accompaniment before launching into an almost Beach Boys-esque clean electric guitar lick, followed by more of the band's soon-to-be trademarked vocal harmonies. This song is one of several on the album that crescendo in an almost post-rock fashion, culminating in a blast of not instruments but voices. Unlike more traditional vocal post-rock acts like A Silver Mt. Zion, however, everybody in Fleet Foxes can sing
. The vocals are easily the most important instrument for the band.
This isn't to say that they aren't also masters of restraint. My favorite track on the album, the pastoral "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song", is just acoustic guitar and frontman Robin Pecknold's bare voice. The opposite of this minimalism can be found on album showpiece "Your Protector", which goes so far as to include a guest flautist amongst the vocal harmonies, guitar, and percussion.
The whole album stands by itself among indie rock and folk releases this year, and anyone who doesn't have a "must be metal" stick jammed up their ass would do well to hear it.