For Robin Pecknold, Fleet Foxes’ music was a coming-of-age story. Pecknold started the band in Seattle with childhood friend Skyler Skjelset when they were only about 20, making unassuming but studied folk music and quickly signing with Sub Pop, who released the band’s pair of historic 2008 releases, Sun Giant EP and their self-titled debut. The Fleet Foxes hid their youth in plain sight, singing fairy tales and channeling musical influences – such as Judee Sill and the Byrds – that signaled nous and maturity. In 2011, a 25-year-old Pecknold started showing his age with the existential Impotence Blues before disappearing and returning, at 31
Propping up, the fourth Fleet Foxes album, brings gratitude back to the fold as Pecknold climbs a pretty new plateau. The mood of the record stems in large part from existential worries and the shadow of death, common concerns of Pecknold, who, now 34, has spent his career turning anxiety into euphoria with towering chants that belie the unease. that inspires them. Career songs like the gritty “Helplessness Blues” were reinforced by a sense of defeat of despair, a feeling that we could all stare at obsolescence and say, Okay, I’m fine. The anguish does not completely disappear Propping up; it’s just accepted and worn, creating a musically adventurous and spiritually indulgent album, as if constantly breathing fresh air.
Over it Propping upbeing grateful also means staying true to yourself and expressing what comes naturally. The album is bright and open, recalling, at times, the sunshine of their first songs, as well as the lighter moments of 2017 Crack-up, like “Fool’s Errand”. Instead of abandoning major-key melodies and blissful vocal harmonies, Pecknold relies on musical bliss on songs like “Sunblind” and “Young Man’s Game”, among the most exultant voices in the band’s catalog. On the latter, Pecknold acknowledges the futility of pretending, chanting: “I might worry every night / Find something unique to say / I might pass for scholar / But it’s a young game.” Reinvention, he implies, is deceptive; refinement and reflection, on the other hand, are the ways of progress.
The idea of refinement is crucial to Fleet Foxes because, on the surface, the band sounds remarkably similar to how they did 12 years ago, without the feeling that they are reconstructing sounds or themes from the past. The resurgent Crack-up demonstrated Pecknold’s evolution as a lyricist and songwriter, someone capable of writing thrilling couplets by commanding extensive metaphors and keeping a certain distance as a writer. The album also contained more intricate arrangements, something that Pecknold carried on Propping up, where the compositions are even more material and lively. The new album, which Pecknold plays almost entirely on his own, is lively, as if it opened the ambitious centerpieces of the previous albums (aka “The Shrine / An Argument” and “Third of May / Ōdaigahara”) and spread fragments of those proggy efforts. throughout the record. “A Long Way Past the Past”, for example, superimposes horns and a moving guitar line beneath Pecknold harmonies and words about letting go of regrets. Sharp manufacturing details give Propping up a natural feel, as guitars, drums and horns warble and float in the breeze alongside the birds, whose chirps carry “Maestranza”.
Elsewhere, there are explicit references to contemporary classical music, such as in “Jara”, which features Meara O’Reilly’s hocketing, and “Cradling Mother, Cradling Woman”, which pairs O’Reilly with a snippet by Brian Wilson that counts to resemble to Philip Bicchiere ‘ Einstein on the beach and, in its sampling, it also recalls the early works of Steve Reich. These moments don’t last long, serving as introductions to their respective tracks, but signal Fleet Foxes’ continued willingness to experiment and venture beyond the confines of their reputation as a folk group whose music sounds just as accessible and enjoyable as it comes out of the speakers at Whole Foods. like it does at Post Malone.
In composing some of the most vibrant music of his career, Pecknold also opens up as a writer, returning a little to the imagery of the nature of his early works while transforming his poetics into true reflections of his thoughts. In the incredible “Sunblind,” Pecknold shares his love for the heroes of the latest songwriters, including Richard Swift, John Prine, Bill Withers, Judee Sill, Elliott Smith, David Berman and Arthur Russell. He mourns their loss and thanks them for leaving behind the gifts of their music, while also connecting their art with a life lived to the full. “I’ll swim for a week in American hot water with dear friends,” sings Pecknold, alluding to the 1998 work of Jewish Silver and juxtaposing the jagged brilliance of Berman’s songs with the physical act of “swimming high on Eden.” “Sunblind” is made even more hilarious by the way Pecknold deploys the darkness of American water and the vast beauty of the ocean, recognizing the former and embracing the latter. Return to Berman on the quiet “Shore”, especially remembering the day of the songwriter’s death. At the end of the song, Pecknold repeats, “Now the quarter moon is out,” turning back to the mourning landscape.
Pecknold’s appreciation of life, his joy in spite of or because of death, continues all the time Propping up. Dark figures creep into the fringes of songs – for example, “These last days / The crooks have controlled my fate” from “Maestranza” – as if their invitations to give in to self-pity or hatred were necessary to push Pecknold towards. rich and satisfying music without becoming overly sentimental. Every moment seems to be earned. The album’s climax comes in the second half of the propulsive “Quiet Air / Joy”, where Pecknold praises: “Oh hell walk by / I never want to die”. It is a consciously excessive statement that does nothing to obscure our greatest fear, sincere and vulnerable in its very willingness to make admission.
Fleet Foxes’ music has never been overly heavy, but every release carries expectations. Pecknold said he wrote a few Impotence Blues have new material to tour with Joanna Newsom. And the prog-folk tangle of Crack-up, of course, it came after a six-year hiatus, landing as a great outlet for every idea gleaned during Pecknold’s time as a student at Columbia University. Propping up it could be the first Fleet Foxes album without such a heavy burden, arriving a little by surprise, without a long layoff, and in a cultural landscape that is no longer at the forefront of indie rock at the center of the musical universe. There is a freedom in it that is seen in the contentious “For a Week or Two” and “Thymia”, or at the beginning of the record with the singing of Oxford student Uwade Akhere, suggesting that Pecknold doesn’t feel the need to open the road or come back right away with a massive statement. Propping up he looks at the world and realizes that there is already enough of it, as if staring into a darkness and responding with beauty, acceptance and light.
Buy: Rough Trade
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