I’ve tried my best to like the Fleet Foxes. Trapped, as we are, in an era of such musical dearth, I pretty much give anything a fair chance featuring guitars, bass and drums. But the Foxes’ soporific folk chorales test my spirit to breaking point. To my ears, they sound like what Neil Young might hear as he’s going under anaesthesia for a splenectomy…or Mumford and Sons on Seconal. Their new album Crack-Up does nothing to change that opinion. It is a meandering, one-note journey to snooze-ville and as most of the tunes are on the lengthy side…it’s a very long trip. This is not an album to listen to if you are operating heavy machinery.
The first track “I Am All That I Need/Arroyo Seco/Thumbprint Scar” is a three-movement suite, though aside from a couple of changes in time signature, it’s nearly impossible to distinguish each section. The instrumentation is strident and singular. The 2/4 pound of acoustic guitar is played with all the finesse of a mental patient and accompanied by a banal lilt of strings. Lyrically, I’ve got to be honest…it’s hard to understand what they’re talking about. Each time I try to key on what their themes are I start to drift off the road. Is it about the Civil War? The vagaries of the human condition? A manatee named Sherwood who lives in the Caspian Sea? I have no fucking clue.
It’s hard to identify any stand-outs here…all the songs are subsumed by their similitude. But to be as thorough as I possibly can, I will dash out a couple of watercolor impressions.
- “Kept Woman,” I feel, is the best of this bunch. It’s a bit of a CSNY throw-away – one of David Crosby’s – but the shift from minor to major is a nice Paul Simon-esque touch. It’s also concise with affecting lyrics of the lost love varietal.
- “Fool’s Errand” has a soaring chorus that I could see sticking with you for a day or two of mumbled solo humming in the elevator.
- This album is a strummy album…not a big fan of the incessant, aimless strumming.
- Listening to this album is making me want to put on John Phillips’ John, The Wolfking Of LA…but ever since I learned he had sex with his daughter, it’s sort of skeeved me on him.
Yeah…I got nothing else. I can’t recommend Crack-Up. It wouldn’t even work as an album to throw on if you’ve got insomnia – it’ll give you bad dreams….or at least boring ones.
I can’t recommend Crack-up. It wouldn’t even work as an album to throw on if you’ve got insomnia – it’ll give you bad dreams....or at least boring ones.