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Dan Baker

CD of The Week

Week of 6/19/17

    Fleet Foxes - Crack-Up (Nonesuch)

    Six years after their last album, Fleet Foxes have returned as full-fledged storytellers with their third release, Crack-Up.

    Frontman Robin Pecknold has made the most of the extended hiatus, evident in his densely-worded lyrics on the album. His writings find themselves in a coveted position: atypical prose that would be scoffed at in spoken-word poetry but blend with the band's unique sound to bring them to life.

    From the opening of the first track, "I Am All That I Am/Arroyo Seco/Thumbprint Scar," the album makes use of drastic dynamic differences to accentuate highs and lows of the story. The gentle strumming melody of a lone acoustic guitar sets the tone, clearly building until the dramatic climax as the song proclaims, "But I am all that I need."

    Continuing in the same token, "- Naiads, Cassadies" builds on the previous tracks and changes to very haunting, self-reflective lyrics, "Who stole life from you? Who turned you so against you?"

    While much of the focus of Crack-Up is on Pecknold's words, sonically the album offers very little variety. The album's 11 songs clock in at just under an hour, which can be a lot to take in of a similar sound. Every song blends into the next with the same musical elements: quietly strummed or picked acoustic guitar (sometimes piano), vocals that are presented in the same fashion, and songs that seem to offer false endings. But maybe that was the point - a bold attempt to show the many stories that can be told in similar ways.

    Fleet Foxes return to Philadelphia at The Mann Center on July 31st with Animal Collective opening.

    Review by Dan Baker

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