Crack-Up by Fleet Foxes
Here we are at #12 with the album voted “most definitely” to appear on this year’s Top 31: Crack-Up. The Fleet Foxes have been one of my most-loved bands since they first appeared on my radar back in 2007. I’ve written so much about the band, I’m sure I don’t need to cover where they came from or who they are.
But what I can cover are where they’ve been. After touring extensively to promote 2011’s Helplessness Blues, the band’s #9 ranking second album, they seemingly broke up so that lead singer/songwriter Robin Pecknold could get his undergraduate degree at Columbia University. Imagine my excitement when, in March 2017, a new song came out of nowhere — the first single from their forthcoming third album, Crack-Up.
I devoured the song, listening to it on multiple repeats over the next week. It was a sprawling, 9+ minute epic called “Third of May / Ōdaigahara,” and while it had hints of the Fleet Foxes of old, the song felt deeper, wiser, as if having been the result of a great journey. Two months later, still having not heard the full album, I got to see the band play in the small-ish (for them) Showbox Market. Hearing those wonderful harmonies, and the new songs blended with the old, it brought all the love right back to the fore.
Then the album came out in June, and I’ve listened to it at least once a week since then. This is a work of art. Unlike the band’s previous work, there’s no real “hook” to these songs, so it does take a little while to catch you. But once it does, it won’t let go, seeping into your thoughts even when you’re not listening to it. Such is the magic of Fleet Foxes.
If you’re interested in hearing more from the album, I recommend this live set from KEXP, performed around when the new album came out. You’ll recognize everything you remember about them, but they’ve clearly aged. And I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look and sound good on them.
13. Famous Last Words by The True Loves
14. Cry Cry Cry by Wolf Parade
15. Pure Comedy by Father John Misty
16. Shake the Shudder by !!!
17. La La Land (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by La La Land
18. The Underside of Power by Algiers
19. What Now by Sylvan Esso
20. 50 Song Memoir by The Magnetic Fields
21. Plunge by Fever Ray
22. DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
23. Capacity by Big Thief
24. The Tourist by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
25. CCFX EP by CCFX
26. Woodstock by Portugal. The Man
27. MASSEDUCTION by St. Vincent
28. On the Spot by Hot 8 Brass Band
29. A Deeper Understanding by The War on Drugs
30. Planetarium by Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, & James McAlister
31. A Moment Apart by Odesza