‘It’s hard to hate but hard to love as well’

Is it sec­ond time lucky for Fleet Foxes, asks Daragh Downes

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - The Album Club -

HOW MANY STU­DIO en­gi­neers does it take to change a light­bulb for Robin Pec­knold? No need, man – “sun­light over me no mat­ter what I do”. It’s all too easy to take the Mícheál out of the stud­ied pas­toral­ism of Fleet Foxes and their front­man. Any twen­tysome­thing Seat­tleite who can un­blush­ingly tell you he went down among the dust and pollen to the old stone fountain in the morn­ing af­ter dawn is ask­ing for trou­ble. But is this whole rus­tic au­then­tic­ity thing lit­tle more than a con­trived schtick aimed at the key Alien­ated Sub­ur­ban­ite de­mo­graphic?

Our June Al­bum Club­bers, not be­ing cyn­ics, don’t buy this charge. Sea­soned mu­si­cians them­selves, they know just how much ten­der lov­ing craft goes into putting to­gether the band’s sig­na­ture Crosby, Stills and Nash har­monies and lush acous­tic tex­tures. How­ever, each of our Popi­cals has come away from Help­less­ness Blues trou­bled by what they see as an on­go­ing lack of depth, orig­i­nal­ity and risk. very fully formed pas­tiche. I think that among younger peo­ple there’s def­i­nitely a per­son­al­ity type who is kind of en­vi­ous of some sup­posed age be­fore there were flash­ing neon lights ev­ery­where and the in­ter­net. And they see these guys and they go, ’Oh wow these guys get it, they get what I like.’ ”

Mike Stevens has noth­ing in prin­ci­ple against full-blown retro­ma­nia, but makes the case that it can only work if it has gen­uine char­ac­ter of its own. “Fleet Foxes are re­ally good at ar­ti­fice. They cre­ate this idea that they have great depth, and then once you kind of dig past the ar­ti­fice, there’s no real sub­stance there. It’s the im­age, the beards. It’s the name Fleet Foxes, it makes you think of Olde Worlde folky im­ages. I also find my­self kind of be­ing duped by the mu­sic be­cause I’m a sucker for big-sound­ing beau­ti­ful pop sounds.”

Stevens wishes the band would ease up on their multi-layer vo­cal har­monies. “They pile on loads of re­verb and it’s al­most like, okay we know you can do that, that’s a nice trick in the stu­dio, but it’s been done and done and done. There’s only so much of it that you can take be­fore you get bored.”

On first lis­ten he was tempted to dis­miss the en­tire al­bum as “just a mush of Fleet Fox­ness”. But tracks such as Bedouin Dress and Lore­lai have grown on him. If only he could get past the an­noy­ing lyri­cal ar­chaisms and the lack of orig­i­nal mu­si­cal vi­sion. “It’s nice, a nice amal­ga­ma­tion of loads of dif­fer­ent things that have been done be­fore.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.