are a Seattle-based indie-folk/Baroque Pop
sextet, originally built up around school friends Robin Pecknold and Skyler Skjelset. After releasing a self-titled debut EP in 2006, they rose to fame and much critical acclaim in 2008 with the EP Sun Giant
and a full-length album (also self-titled
). A new studio album called Helplessness Blues
was released in 2011.
Their music features lots of complex instrumentation and vocal harmony, inviting many comparisons to the Beach Boys
and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
, along with other acts from the Sixties
. The general atmosphere often evokes a somewhat Autumnal feel, similar to the likes of Nick Drake
. Ultimately, however, the Fleet Foxes stand out it the music world as a very original act. The band's skilled musicianship and Pecknold's talent for songwriting have also attracted much praise by music fans and press alike.
The second album differs from the first in several ways. The instrumentation features violins and flutes (courtesy of multi-instrumentalist Morgan Henderson) and fewer electric instruments. The songs are much more subject-based in their lyrics rather than being purely poetic. Many of them were inspired by the difficulties experienced in coming to terms with new-found success and creating the new record, as well as general reflections on ageing and finding one's place in the world.
Current band members:
- Robin Pecknold
- Skyler Skjelset
- J. Tillman
- Casey Wescott
- Christian Wargo
- Morgan Henderson
They provide examples of:
- Animated Music Video: Several.
- The video for Mykonos is a stop-motion narrative cartoon made mainly with cut-out triangles, animated to the rhythm of the song.
- White Winter Hymnal has a claymation video, reflecting on the themes of ageing and the passage of time.
- The video for The Shrine / An Argument is animated as well. And by god is it deranged! Like Mykonos it also appears to tell a story, but this time with an antelope in the leading role, accompanied by the denizens of your worst nightmares.
- Arcadia: The island of Innisfree is mentioned several times on Helplessness Blues. It is a place of harmony and consistency, in contrast to the uncertainty of the modern world.
- Badass Beard: Five out of six band members.
- Break Up Song: "The Shrine/ An Argument".
- Child Ballad: The 2 volume version of their debut includes a version of False Knight on the Road.
- Digital Piracy Is Evil: Averted. Robin Pecknold has come out in defense of downloading songs off the internet, saying this is how he acquired much of the music that inspired him.
- Epic Rocking: While most of their music is more folk than rock, some of their longer songs like "Ragged Wood," "The Plains / Bitter Dancer," and "The Shrine / An Argument" allow more space for soloing and improvisation. Several songs feature modulation, meaning they feature key changes and seem to have the structure of two songs mashed together.
- Multiple Head Case: The giant two-headed horned serpent from the music video for The Shrine / An Argument. Appropriately enough, the two heads seem rather argumentative.
- Non-Appearing Title: Several, including "Blue Spotted Tail", "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" and "White Winter Hymnal".
- Our Monsters Are Weird: Some very bizarre creatures appear in the music video for The Shrine / An Argument.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: At the end of "The Shrine / An Argument", what seems like a calm, folky outro is suddenly interrupted by a Free-Jazz-style segment featuring an atonal horn section. The jarring effect is presumably meant to represent the eponymous Argument in musical form.
- Shout-Out: "Montezuma" contains a Title Drop with the words "Oh man what I used to be / Montezuma to Tripoli". This is a reference to the Marine's Hymn", also known as "The Halls of Montezuma".
- Sim Sim Salabim: "Sim Sala Bim," obviously, though the song doesn't seem to specifically reference the stereotype, beyond the one line about a man reciting incantations.
- Singing Simlish: "Heard Them Stirring" consists entirely of "oohs" and "aahs".
- Single Stanza Song: "White Winter Hymnal."
- Snow Means Death: "White Winter Hymnal," possibly.
- Something Blues: "Helplessness Blues." Although it is not really a blues song.
- The Something Song: "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song."
- Title Drop: Most of their songs do not feature the title in any prominent way, assuming the title is even in the song at all. Often it is only a brief word or phrase that gives the song its name. Examples: "Blue Ridge Mountains", "Montezuma", "Sim Sala Bim" and "Helplessness Blues".
- Uncommon Time: "Battery Kinzie" jumps around between 4/4, 6/4, and a bit of 2/4, 3/4, and 5/4.
- Word Salad Lyrics: "White Winter Hymnal" stands out. It appears to be about the passing of the seasons. Or maybe decapitation.