Fleet Foxes (Sup Pop Records, 2008)

I always like to be pleasantly surprised by new music. One of the nicest surprises I've had recently came as a birthday gift, in the form of the self-titled debut CD from the band Fleet Foxes. Led by Robin Pecknold, this Seattle band manages to sound both retro and fresh at the same time. Their ragged, unkempt appearance belies their strong sense of musicality.

The aspect of Fleet Foxes' sound that sticks out the most is their persistent use of reverb on the vocals and instruments. The echoes give the whole album a distinctive ambience. Fleet Foxes also has a full share of solid group harmonies; their approach to the vocals evokes the bands of the sixties, yet it comes off as something new and exotic in the current musical landscape. Pecknold's lyrics might be a bit cryptic and mysterious, but his words mesh very well with the mood the band creates with their music. This is best exemplified by a haunting, unnerving song called "Your Protector" -- "As you lay to die beside me baby on the morning that you came, would you wait for me? The other one would wait for me."

Fleet Foxes pull off the increasingly difficult feat of creating their own sound and style with standard rock instrumentation and no real frills outside of some echo. While "Your Protector" stands out for me, the album doesn't waste a track, and just has this really cool feel to it. I'm really looking forward to hearing more from these guys.

Overall grade: A-

reviewed by Scott

"He Doesn't Know Why"

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