Oh man what I used to be, oh man oh my oh me
Fleet Foxes will forever be one of my favorite indie folk bands simply because they never fail to provide me with a song for any of life’s unbearable or beautiful moments, which is a quality I definitely hold dear. They are accessible yet cryptic, melancholic yet sanguine, restrained yet always evoking a hint of hopefulness. I will always hold folk music in high regard because I believe that it has the tendency to be some of the most raw and pure sounds there are. Like I have said before, folk music, especially Fleet Foxes, has a predisposition for hiding, but I honestly think that the chase for meaning is worth it in the long run.
Fleet Foxes is fronted by lead singer and songwriter Robin Pecknold, whose outward appearance immediately gives away the whole genre of the band, which I absolutely love. This is a man who literally is his music, and it’s refreshing in a way. His parents were the type that wholeheartedly enjoyed music and understood it’s magical qualities (his father was even in a band), so he was exposed to all this amazing music at a very early age. He started Fleet Foxes with a friend many years after that and started to record demos. Many were impressed with Robin Pecknold’s songwriting, to which I would describe as being incredibly mature and evocative. As for his voice, it’s one beyond his years. The rest of the band formed soon after, and the band was born. Fleet Foxes released their debut EP Sun Giant in 2008, having only five songs. From the first track “Sun Giant,” Pecknold’s musical abilities are clearly showcased, and the songs that were released were each more impressive than the last. Fleet Foxes took aspects of many different genres, including the purity of church-choir music mixed with the riffs of classic rock, for example, or soothing interludes meshed with indie overtones. “Mykonos” is my favorite from this EP, and it’s a song I have a deep, personal connection to. There’s just something about it that yearns for the past; something about it that beckons for the times you’d rather forget but must keep near for the sake of sentimentality. It’s an enigma of a song, and it’s one that I will always hold dear to my heart. Sun Giant was an impressive start, to say the very least, and it’s brilliant uses of falsetto and reverb left the listener with a sense of longing for more.
Fleet Foxes then released their debut album Fleet Foxes the same year as Sun Giant, and it proved to be quite a treasure. Rather than elaborate off of the already relatively fresh EP, the folk band decided to do some sampling – namely, mix together aspects of the best of the best to create music that could be listened to by everyone – no matter your music taste, there was a song for you on this album. Yes, the range was broad: “White Winter Hymnal” and “Ragged Wood” set the stage for a whimsical, fluttery scene in which you imagine woodland animals scampering about, while “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” quickly turns your mood dark and somber. “Your Protector” and “Blue Ridge Mountains” are one of my favorites off of this album because they erupt with an overwhelming sense of power and resilience that inspires me each time I listen to them. Again, the folk melodies are subtly nestled in between classic rock beats and smooth choral interludes, and it all turns into a new, different sound. Robin Pecknold has such an amazing grasp on his own voice, and that control really matters with passionate songs like these. Soft rhythms and folk references make Fleet Foxes a stand-alone album, one that deserves to be held with high praise.
The Fleet Foxes trifecta was then completed with the release of their third album Helplessness Blues. This album was undeniably their most mature and focused album yet, and it clearly showed with Robin’s songwriting and the rest of the bands mellow undertones. This album has one of my absolute favorite songs of all time: the melodic, brilliant masterpiece titled “Montezuma.” The lyrics in that song are nothing sort of perfection to me, and it will always somehow leave you both inspired and crestfallen all at once. “Helplessness Blues” is the showstopper here, and it doesn’t disappoint. It brings the tension of love and loss to a new angle, and the battle between them is breathtaking. “Sim Sala Bim” is poetic and lovely, while “Lorelai” is a waltz of joy. Overall, Helplessness Blues evoked a sense of introspection and sincerity, all while portraying a more mature image.
Fleet Foxes has a different sound to me mainly because their album was the first physical CD I had bought in a very very long time. I bought both their albums and kept them both in my very first car immediately after I had gotten my license, and so they had a bit more sentimental value that way. Since then, I always attribute Fleet Foxes with a sense of independence and the feeling of being carefree for once in a very long time, which is why I am always filled with nostalgia when I listen to these beautiful songs.