When Seattle’s Fleet Foxes played outdoors in the drunken Texas sun at South By Southwest earlier this year, it was impossible not to be stirred by their harmonies, which were so sweet they sounded holy. With their heady gumbo of alt.country, gothic Americana and gospel spirituals, we took to calling them “My Morning Jacket singing madrigals” at the time. We weren’t the only ones gushing either. Three months on and others are still describing them as “America’s next great band” or “guaranteed to make the second half of 2008 great”.
Sadly, all these descriptions are only going to leave anyone who comes to this album without having first seen Fleet Foxes onstage coolly underwhelmed. Not because it’s impossible to find the same sonic salvation here on their debut as it is amid the ever-revolving setlists of their live shows, but because you have to wade through a lot of plaid-shirted, porch-rocking psychedelia before you get there. The patient pilgrim, though, can look forward to unearthing the widescreen Laurel Canyon-birthed wonder of ‘Your Protectors’ after one or two plays. Or the haunting simplicity of ‘White Winter Hymnal’ – an eerie chain-gang chant that would have slipped seamlessly on to the O, Brother! Where Art Thou? soundtrack if only it had been written 70 years earlier – after a few more. The true path to enlightenment, however, can be found by getting in line for any one of their UK tour dates this week or next.
Fleet Foxes – ‘Fleet Foxes’ available now from the NME Store.