Reviewed by: Lauren Rosier
In 2008, indie folk five-piece, Fleet Foxes, took the indie folk scene by storm with their stunning self-titled debut. Following their sophomore effort, Helplessness Blues, in 2011, the band is back after a 3-year hiatus with their third release, Crack-Up.
For fans of the bands debut, this is much more complex then the bands previous releases. It isn’t as commercially crowd-pleasing as their first, but Robin Pecknold’s songwriting takes on a new hold. This record is inspired by the F. Scott Fitzgerald essay of the same name as well as Pecknold’s experiences at Columbia University.
The appeal behind Crack-Up is because it’s so relatable in today’s society. Like so many artists in today’s music scene, Pecknold and company, look to their songwriting and musicianship to express their views on how people and organizations are reacting to the changes in our country’s society and government. Despite that observation, Crack-Up is rather void of a single, thematic voice.
Pecknold addresses the state of the militarized police force in America on “Cassius, -” singing “…as I went they’re all beside us in silence/as if unaffected by the violence…” He continues with the societal and political themes on the album title track, as well as on “If You Need To, Keep Time On Me”, singing “how could it all fall in one day/were we too sure of the sun…”
Perhaps one of the most mainstream-friendly tracks is “ – Naiads, Cassadies”, which illustrates Pecknold’s views on the state of man in America, asking “who stole the life from you/who turned you so against you…”
On “Kept Woman”, this track felt more like some of the material from the band’s debut. The band sings about a woman named Anna, a kept woman (a kept woman is someone who exchanges shelter and food for sexual favors), who is the subject of the song.
Even though the record doesn’t feature a huge single like “Winter White Hymnal” or “Battery Kinzie”, Fleet Foxes takes it to an undeniable level of artistry. From Pecknold’s lyricism to the band’s musicianship with creating these tracks like the opener, the artistry on this record is incredible. With five musicians contributing harmonizing vocals while simultaneously performing intricate melodies, you can see how it can get complex. Fleet Foxes does it, though, with carefree, intuitive musicianship that results in an exceptionally creative record from front to back.