Hiatus does Fleet Foxes well on excellent “Crack-Up”

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A short playlist, curated by Nora Erdman, chronicling Fleet Foxes sonic development from "Sun Giant" to "Crack-Up"

Drawing inspiration from the likes of Bob Dylan and Neil Young, the Fleet Foxes have been at the forefront of a new form of indie-folk for years. The band was formed in 2006 in Seattle by high school friends Robin Pecknold and Skyler Skjelset.

After the release of their EP Sun Giant in 2008, which drew national attention to the group mostly as a result of the song “Mykonos,” they quickly followed with their first LP, Fleet Foxes, which received wide-ranging critical acclaim and a rabid following.

Between their first and second LP, Helplessness Blues, that the band lost their drummer, Josh Tillman (now more popularly known as Father John Misty). The change in membership also brought about a change in their sound. Pecknold wanted a more “groove-based” approach and songs that included all the mistakes they made in recording sessions. The “mistakes” turned into a hit, and the album was nominated for a Grammy.

After taking a hiatus to get his degree from Columbia University, Pecknold recently confirmed that the band was working on a third album with new additions to the band.

The newest contribution to their musical library is their third full-length, Crack-Up. This album alludes to multiple prominent artists and their works, like an essay from F. Scott Fitzgerald and a romantic painting by Francisco Goya.

Pecknold describes that the F. Scott Fitzgerald essay, Crack-Up, had more to do with the album than just its name. In an interview with Pitchfork Magazine, he explains that “there are themes in the essay that come up a lot on the album, both lyrically and musically. The essay addresses the necessity of holding two opposing thoughts in one’s mind at once.” He later discussed his trouble finding meaning in life, in which the essay proved to be helpful motivation.

In an exclusive look into rehearsals, Robin Pecknold describes that he plays a “keyboard that is tuned to different band pass filters and frequencies” in order to create a “pitchy” and harmonious sound. In other words, he pre-recorded sounds of the Cello and French Horn on his keyboard.

The song “Third of May/ Ōdaigahara,” partially inspired by Goya’s painting, was mostly inspired by Pecknold’s relationship with long-time friend and band member Skyler Skjelset. “It addresses our distance in the years after touring that album,” he stated in Pitchfork, “The feeling of having an unresolved, unrequited relationship that is lingering psychologically.”

The album holds eleven songs that each tell a story. They use sounds of all types, like flowing rivers in “Cassius” or wind chimes in “I Am All That I Need/Arroyo Seco/Thumbprint Scar.”

The Northwestern produced an album difficult to surpass. Crack-Up is an excellent example of musical experimentation and demonstrates that there are more voices to a band than just a lead singer.

As for the tour, the band has spent months preparing and is hoping “to hit everywhere we can this time.” Starting in Australia and ending in Norway, it is safe to say that the band is hitting anywhere possible. They come to the Palace Theater in St. Paul for back-to-back shows starting September 30.

The album will be released in early June, although many songs are already available on various streaming sites.