Seattle rock band Fleet Foxes, in our humble opinion, released the album of the Noughties – it’s eponymous debut being the spiritual descendent of such transcendental pop-rock classics like The Beach Boys’ aborted Smile and Todd Rundgren’s majestic A Wizard, A True Star.
The problem with that is, of course, how to follow up a universally acclaimed classic? While Helplessness Blues (2011) was a worthy effort, it never quite touched the heights of that first album. Then, the band went on hiatus – only returning in 2016 with plans for a new album. Could Robin Pecknold and company pull off a comeback against the odds?
The answer is a resounding “YES”! Crack-Up (the band’s first with Nonesuch Records) never tries to replicate the debut in anyway. Instead, it takes Fleet Foxes in new directions, whilst retaining the core of what makes the band so compelling.
The melodies and harmonies still resonate where needed but it is in ambitious, experimental and almost progressive song structures that Fleet Foxes find a distinctive new voice.
Songs like “I Am All That I Need / Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar”, “Kept Woman” and “Third of May / Ōdaigahara” with their varied arrangements, heavenly vocals and sophisticated instincts declare Fleet Foxes arrival as a true musical artist that raises them above their peers.
This is not a mainstream pop album aimed at indie-folk hipsters, in fact much of Crack-Up can come across as alienating and inaccessible but for the serious music enthusiast, there is much to savour in its thoughtful compositions.
… still there’s more …