On Shore

Fleet Foxes released their new album Shore last week. This is a band that I consistently have time for. They create vast sonic worlds, every song happily existing a space that’s tucked neatly in to a musical universe that no-one else co-inhabits. It’s amazing how much Fleet Foxes sound like Fleet Foxes. There are many acts who you can pick from voice alone, ie Dylan sounds like Dylan from the first word he sings, Joni will always be Joni, but Fleet Foxes manage to do it even before the words come in. The way the chords are constructed, the reverb, the room sound, the intention behind the way the notes are played are so endemic to them that you can pick a Fleet Foxes song just from the first chord.

This album Shore is a masterpiece. In classic Robin Pecknold (singer/songwriter) method, it took two years to record, and it sounds and feels like it. I follow Robin Pecknold on Instagram and he’s been pretty open about the recording process, but pretty closed about the release process. Most days for the last two years he’s posted clips of him playing snippets of songs, recording overdubs and messing around in the studio, and this album has slowly unfolded in ten second segments, but this is nothing to hearing the full album in its entirety.

Shore was sneakily released without much fanfare: announced on Instagram and a week later it was out. It comes accompanied by an hour-long ‘nature documentary’: Kersti Jan Werdel took a road trip with a Super-8 camera and recorded a bunch of footage of the American Mid-West and it’s an immersive, meditative experience.

As an album, it needs to be digested as a whole, but I know that as the coming weeks wander past I’ll start to pick out little bits that stick. Particular favourites so far are the opening track Wading in Waist-High Water which features the vocals of 21 year old singer songwriter Uwade Akhere and then drops into Sunblind. When Robin’s voice arrives on Sunblind it feels like home. The drums throughout the record are representative of every great 70s Americana record, although that’s possibly a tie-in with the visuals which are designed to put you in that space. Final favourite is Thymia, a gorgeous little number near the end that reminds me a little of the track I Should See Memphis off their 2017 album Crack Up.

Fleet Foxes’ Shore throws me back to the Punch Brother’s 2018 album All Ashore, in title (of course) but also in conception and in sound. Sprawling through-composed songs, an overarching theme and lush layers that swift and swerve around each other to create a dense landscape that needs time to be explored fully. There are plenty of albums out there that hit you with the first play and then lose impact over time, but both Shore and All Ashore have so much going on that you can keep returning time and time again to pull on the threads.

If you haven’t seen it yet, Episode 4 of FWF features the incredible Dylan Knur. It’s a bit of fun: up-tempo jazz with some incredible lyrics (that I felt weird singing, but hey it’s a song by Lily and King, so anything is appropriate! have a listen to the Bridge section to see what I mean)

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