Is 2008 really ten years ago? Ten years, as in a decade? Wow.
Fleet Foxes’ brilliant debut turns ten this week, which is as good of an excuse as any to revisit this wintery masterpiece. I remember when I first picked up a copy of Fleet Foxes (at Vinnies, like the hipster trash that I am), and read the little note included by lead singer Robin Pecknold as some form of artist statement. It came as a surprise for a number of reasons.
First of all, how many other bands include little letters to the listeners in their albums? Second, how many bands are as honest and genuine as this? “Thank you for listening to our band. We’ve made some mistakes and we’ll continue to do so, but we are happy to be making songs and would love the opportunity to continue to grow and change as the years pass by”, it read. Perhaps all the more surprising was the fact that this letter was signed by deceased US President Warren G. Harding, dated April 2008. But then, I can’t think of a more appropriate introduction to this album.
For one, it’s hard to classify in a time period - it both sounds like it was made in 2008, and that it could never have been made then. It’s both modern and medieval, perhaps that’s why it’s often labelled as ‘Baroque Pop’. But secondly, no matter how many reviewers have praised the album’s beautiful instrumentation, awe-inspiring lyricism, and of course Pecknold’s voice, its most enduring quality is that it feels so… genuine. The band are undoubtedly very gifted musicians, but are under no pretenses. They know they are human: they are prepared to make mistakes, and willing to live with them.
I know it’s hard to say without having met him, but it seems impossible to imagine Pecknold as anything other than just a really sweet, down-to-earth guy who always says what he means. As the weather gets colder, and I find myself retreating into bed with a cup of tea, there is no better accompaniment that Fleet Foxes. It’s a big warm blanket draped across my shoulders as I sit by the window in the freezing winter.
After ten years, the album feels as fresh as the day it was born, and I could never tire of listening to it. The only difference now is that each listen brings back memories, times where Fleet Foxes has soundtracked my life. So happy birthday to an album well worth celebrating.