The American folk band Fleet Foxes are back with a third studio album. Crack Up comes six years after their hit sophomore album Helplessness Blues. The 11- track new album moves swiftly through each song keeping a consistent sound throughout.
The six-plus minute opener starts off with a slow melancholy guitar strum. A minute later, the song picks it up for an upbeat and catchy final five minutes. Lead singer Robin Pecknold has an incredibly inviting voice. He sounds as if he grew up in Ireland, not Seattle, Washington.
Fleet Foxes fifth track “Third of May/Odaigahara” is the ultimate winner here. It’s not a coincidence that the third of May is the date of their last album release. Pecknold sings of going back home and maintaining his close friendship with founding member Skyler Skjelset. His voice is loud and clear as he belts, “Now back in our town as a castaway/ I’m reminded of the time it all fell in line, on the third of May.” It’s memorable, and very well could be the biggest smash hit of all of Crack Up. In the six years since their last album band members have taken on solo projects. Pencknold even attended Columbia University, but it’s clear they had more to say.
Folk music easily falls in line with each listeners mood. It’s a soothing genre. If an artist creates the right folk sound it can effortlessly transport each person away.
That’s the real point of music isn’t it? Give everyone something to relate to, but to help them escape their own reality as well?
Crack Up, though slow at times does a great job of utilizing the unique folk sound to keep listeners engaged. The openings of each song maintain a good pace. Just because a song stats off slowly doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom the entire time.
Sticking it out and giving the album a solid listen is rewarding with tracks like “Mearcstapa” which brings in a beautiful violin solo. A second listen to the album does wonders. Catching onto to lyrics and connections that might have been missed on the first go-round makes the experience that much better.
Any listener in the mood for folk will enjoy Crack Up. Fleet Foxes are a relaxed version of Mumford & Sons. They know how to reel it in while still sounding graceful. It’s not easy for bands to pull that off, but they do it nicely.