Rising slowly over the horizon of a fractured, but ever evolving modern music scene in 2008, The Fleet Foxes self-titled debut didn’t so much dazzle, as glow warmly, encouraging you to bask in its radiance as it did so.
While all this had been done before (their enthusiastically reckless use of reverb recalls My Morning Jacket in their early days, while the blended harmony vocals recall late 60s vintage Bee Gees in places, and the whole thing seems rooted in a fine compost of folksy roots rock), that is not to detract from the overall achievement of Fleet Foxes, as this debut apparently sprung out of nowhere with minimal airplay assistance to become a sizeable indie hit, while somehow remaining distinctly out of step with contemporary guitar-rock sounds.
Taken individually, many of the songs on Fleet Foxes stand out, with “White Winter Hymnal”, “Ragged Wood”, and “Your Protector” being particularly startling offerings, however on reflection the album is best consumed as a whole, to appreciate its reassuring structure and heft. We’re in the company of quality music here folks, best treat it with the respect it deserves.
As an album Fleet Foxes boasts a warm and organic sound which heals and soothes the soul rather than spending its run time punching you in the back of head in an effort to convince you how modern and ‘real’ it is. In a world of sharp, angular guitars, world-straddling musical colossi, and questionable sexual politics, it is comforting to find comfort in an album that is the musical equivalent of a warm duvet that the more sensitive souls can cower under while we hide from the rest of the world.
Fleet Foxes is by turns charming, beguiling, mature, child like, gently surprising and all-embracing. Like a winter evening in the pub spent sat by an open fire with a close friend, it allows you to forget how cold and bitter the outside world is, and when your friend gives you a manly hug when you depart, you realise it’s left you with not only a physical feeling of warmth, but an emotional one as well.