Shore by Fleet Foxes
As cynical as we’ve all become, there’s nothing quite like listening to a new release from a band so consistently strong and beautiful that you can’t help but feel hopeful. The new Fleet Foxes album Shore opens gently, soft waves lapping at the shore of your speakers, before the band whips everything into strong waves that throw you breathlessly into the deep, longed-for pull of their sound.
Frontman Robin Pecknold calls this the ‘friendly brother’ of the band’s 2017 album Crack-Up. It’s a warm, cleanly produced indie folk album, with through-lines of nature and loose allusions to lockdown – the album began to take shape in 2019, its focus sharpening as Pecknold drove around New York state during quarantine. This music is so contemporary yet never denies what came before. We see a literal example of this in ‘Sunblind’, where Pecknold sings of swimming for a week in warm American water, while tributes flow softly in the background for influential musicians like Jeff Buckley, Jimi Hendrix, Judee Sill and John Prine. A more oblique homage to Buckley’s sound can be heard in the beautiful ‘Maestranza’. Despite these references, Fleet Foxes are always so resolutely themselves, from the disarming, incredible hook of ‘Can I Believe You’, which has played through my head since I first heard it; to ‘Jara’, a song so free and light, you’ll want to hop a ride on its tailwind as you leap through the world or drive your car with abandon to it on a sunny day. There’s also the heightened folk sounds of ‘Featherweight’, an ethereal song that could have sprung from a radio some 50 years ago, with an underlying darkness and a bubbling piano like a cascading brook.
Much like Grand Salvo’s equally oceanic 2018 release Sea Glass, Shore is an album with an ebb and flow. It’s one to be grateful for as we farewell a summer we’ll always remember.