Review: Fleet Foxes – ‘Third Of May / Ōdaigahara’

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Nostalgic

The first release from their upcoming third album is a sprawling nine-minute epic

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American indie outfit Fleet Foxes has been mostly quiet since the 2011 release of second album Helplessness Blues, and with the first single from June 16th‘s Crack-Up the band largely manages to address the years with their typical, wilderness-like brand of folk.

One might expect that, after a few years apart, the band might have experimented with their sound a bit, but ‘Third Of May / Ōdaigahara’ opens directly into the kind of folk they’ve been practicing for years. It’s no bad thing that the first couple of minutes feel very reminiscent of Helplessness Blues tracks ‘Battery Kinzie’ or ‘Grown Ocean,’ however it soon devolves into the kind of diverse sonic landscape that we are told will be typical of Crack-Up, with music used to evoke the same feelings of freedom and solitude that they have experienced over the last few years through multiple crescendos and refrains. Musing over the band’s brief separation (“Night ended the fight, but the song remained / And so I headed to the wall / Turned tail to call to the new domain”), lead singer Robin Peckold explores the six years post-Helplessness Blues before a rather beautiful (if messy) two-minute instrumental break fades out the song.

Whilst perhaps not the best introduction to Fleet Foxes, ‘Third Of May / Ōdaigahara’ will still get many fans excited for what is to come in the summer. Perfectly poignant and ideal for late spring nights spent relaxing outside in the sun, the nine-minute epic is a fitting return for the Seattle-based quintet. With a booking at Latitude in July approaching, it’s nice to have so much on the cards after such a long time away.

‘Third Of May / Ōdaigahara’ is out now via Nonesuch Records

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I play/watch/listen to things, then write about playing/watching/listening to things. Special powers include downing two litres of tea at a time and binging a 13-episode Netflix series in 12 hours

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