Fleet Foxes - Crack Up
I really don't know why I've been avoiding writing about this record. I listened to the first song when it came out, a slow folksy number with plenty of pinning and and emotions laid bare. It's slightly off in it's production adding to the almost DIY-lite environment. The song eventually turns into a stomping romp of Americana and it sounds great. So why in the hell do I dread listening to it? Why can't i buy in? If this was three or four years ago this likely would have been one of the biggest albums of the year because folk and hipster music was at it's absolute heights. Since then there has been a pretty consistent backlash against folk music with bands like Arcade Fire, Lord Huron and others seemingly missing the mark. Mumford & Sons tried to sidestep this with their more rock heavy most recent album but they never fully escaped it. Unfortunately Fleet Foxes might be more well known for their former members than they are on their own. Former drummer Father John Misty has rose to massive popularity since going solo and has more or less become the arbitrator of this kind of music. On this album Fleet Foxes seem to double down on the earnest indie sound, and if the titles reflect anything they also double down on the pretension. This record is so fucking dense with both music and lyrics that getting anything from it on a first pass is nearly impossible. With six and even eight minute songs that never pace above a crawl you'll find yourself desperate for the end. But then, seemingly out of no where they will reach some peak of excitement with echoed voice that cuts straight to your soul, it's an interesting an odd experience.
"Third of May/Odaigahara" and yes you're reading that title right, is so long and so much of the same thing it was absolutely torture to sit and listen to it for almost nine minutes. It doesn't even make sense. The longing is palpable in Robin Pecknold's voice, and you feel like with something modern, something grounding this album in 2017 would give it so much more weight. The ideas He is going into about despair and diving inward when the outside world is full of confusion are very legit for this moment in time, but the package they are wrapped up in makes fully looses the message. If you want to sit and listen to songs with no chorus, that are painfully slow and maddeningly long than Crack Up is the album for you. For anyone else however it just never works. The reviews online of this album are incredible landing it on many top 50 lists, but I'm not seeing it nor feeling it. This is music for people who feel in love during Folk's heyday and never moved on. The people who still think Arcade FIre is the best band in the world and will think that for the rest of time. Yet the world moves on, and so do trends in music. The key to staying relevant is not fully reinventing yourself but at least keeping yourself in line with popular culture in some way or another. This album doesn't do any of that.
6.0 out of 10