Six long years we’ve been waiting for this album. Well, at least I was. And at least my last six years were long. But let’s pretend that’s true for all of us. Crack-up, the new Fleet Foxes album, is out there, and to my astonishment the world hasn’t stopped turning. But let me tell you what did happen.
We got a new powerful representation of the Foxes’ capabilities, with ever more powerful production and arrangement. The sound of this album brings echoes from their past work, but at times offers a new perspective through which to enjoy the smooth melodies and unique and recognizable vocals of Robin Pecknold.
Unlike the structure of this review, I would recommend listening to the whole album in one seating. “Third of May,” for one, starts too abruptly partly because the previous song provided somewhat of a build-up. It is quite noticeable that the album was made to be a complete work of art. The melodies many times would sound just as soothing as ever, but quite a few of them offer a new approach. Listening to “– Naiads, Cassadies,” for example, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Velvet Underground.
I will leave most of the lyrical interpretation to you, given its cryptic nature, but I do have to point your attention to the haunting ballad “Kept Woman,” which is not only touching and striking to the core, but also accomplishes the heroic feat of rhyming “ossified” with “oceanside”.
The aesthetics of the album as a whole, including its artwork, signal something darker but also more sophisticated than what we’ve heard of the Washingtonian group. Not only naive folk ballads, but complete artistic suites, with sounds that reach as far as Japan.
Overall, what should you expect? You are not going to find the catchy tunes Fleet Foxes got famous delivering, from White Winter Hymn to Mykonos; but you will find a more mature, sophisticated version of the melodies and sweet harmonies that made them what they are, and will make them stay around for just a while longer.