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Boomkat Product Review:
Given how unwaveringly magnificent their recent Sun Giant EP was, it almost seems unreasonable to expect the same impeccable standards to be maintained over the course of a full-length album, but this debut album by the Seattle quintet Fleet Foxes fulfils the potential hinted at by that recent precursor, and then some. The key to this band's success, and potential greatness, lies somewhere in their ability to take that most fecund of creative soils: the '60s, and reappropriate the vintage elements of The Band, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Simon & Garfunkel without making it sound like a second-hand commodity, or even something that could be termed as retro. It just sounds classic. There's nothing especially new about what Fleet Foxes do, but nor are they a folk-rock group in any conventional sense; they certainly aren't following the Espers template, or dressing up as 14th century wood nymphs like most of the nu-folk fallout crowd have been of late. However you might choose to pigeonhole the band, one certainty is that the vocals play a huge part in the Fleet Foxes sound. Robin Pecknold's solo delivery is powerful and distinctive enough to survive on its own merits, but once backed by the full polyphony of harmonies offered by his fellow bandmates it becomes something quite magical - all the more so because it's been nestled in a well of rich, old-fashioned echo. While this is very much a record to be digested as a whole album, in songwriting terms if you had to pick a clear standout, chances are 'White Winter Hymnal' would single itself out after a couple of listens. A great many bands strive for that timeless Beach Boys harmony sound, but it's seldom achieved with such panache and melodic flair as on this song, which goes about its business all too quickly, evaporating in a mist of a cappella loveliness within just two-and-a-half perfectly formed minutes. Utterly lovely.