FLEET FOXES – Fleet Foxes (Bella Union)
Fleet Foxes are my tip for slow burning success in the album of the year stakes – hopefully, by the time the polls come out people will realise just what a fantastic album this is. It took just one small mention in NME and a quick listen to their myspace page and I was hooked. It is hard to describe their music as it is so unlike anything else around at the moment, but their influences range from The Beach Boys to Mercury Rev, via Crosby Still Nash & Young, and they mash them up into something that is… well, Fleet Foxes. ‘Sun Also Rises’ is the first place that you hear their exquisite harmonies, coupled with some fine acoustic guitar, and when ‘White Winter Hymnal’ adds drums to the mix you have the band at their very best. This last track is also their latest single, and I can guarantee that it won’t get anywhere near the charts – it is just too good for them. ‘Ragged Wood’ proves that they can pick up the pace if needed, and early Kings Of Leon are a good reference point here, while ‘Quiet Houses’ is where the Beach Boys influences (especially the ‘Smile’ era sound) bleed through into the music rather than just in the harmonies. ‘Your Protector’ is a stunning track, where the tune, playing and vocal blend together to become much more than just the sum of its parts. ‘Meadowlark’ is just a heartfelt vocal over lightly picked guitar, with a hummed chorus, and yet is more affecting than any number of overblown ballads. ‘Oliver James’ closes the album with another of their deceptively simple songs – it sounds as if there is nothing at all to it, and yet it will be going around in your brain for days after first hearing it. And now we come to the point where vinyl addicts come out on top – their version of the album also includes the band’s ‘Sun Giant’ EP as a 12” extra – five more songs easily the equal of anything on the album, and in ‘English House’ and ‘Mykonos’ perhaps even surpassing some of them. If you have any love at all for indie/alternative music then you must hear this album, and I guarantee that you will be converted to their cause within two listens.