Fleet Foxes

On first listen to Fleet Foxes' debut, it's easy to think, "How in the world did Sub Pop manage to dig up another band that sounds even more like My Morning Jacket than Band of Horses does?" Repeat listens reveal these Foxes to be of a much folksier pedigree, however, forgoing the monstrous riffage and Bonnaroo-friendly Pink Floyd-isms of MMJ for a sound that owes more to the tight harmonies of the Zombies and Crosby, Stills and Nash (though the band certainly shares Jim James' affinity for roomy reverb and Neil Young).

"White Winter Hymnal" makes good on the promise of the this spring's Sun Giant EP, kicking off with an honest-to-goodness vocal round before launching into gorgeous harmony and darkly pastoral lyrics ("And Michael, you would fall/And turn the white snow red as strawberries in the summertime..."), while the quietly innocent "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" would perfectly suit a woodland scene in some forgotten animated fairy tale. And while much of Fleet Foxes is certainly derivative—from the Brian Wilson-indebted oohs and ahhs of "Heard Them Stirring" and "He Don't Know Why" to the distinct Laurel Canyon vibe that permeates the album's arrangements—it's hard to deny the beauty of the band's young voices as they rise in unison, with the record appropriately opening ("Red Squirrel Sun Rises") and closing ("Oliver James") in a capella fashion.


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