Fleet Foxes: Indie-Pop's Celestial Choir

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Thursday's Pick

  • Song: "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song"
  • Artist: Fleet Foxes
  • CD: Fleet Foxes
  • Genre: Folk-Rock
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If The Shins' members were lavishly bearded and sang like a celestial choir, they might sound like Fleet Foxes. Dan Belisle hide caption

itoggle caption Dan Belisle

If The Shins' members were lavishly bearded and sang like a celestial choir, they might sound like Fleet Foxes, a Seattle band whose blended harmonies mesh beautifully with sweet, pure, subtly lavish arrangements. Fleet Foxes' full-length debut, Ragged Wood, fuses warmth with majesty in a way rarely heard outside of, say, a mid-period My Morning Jacket record.

Still, though Fleet Foxes' music often gets drenched in rich harmonies, "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" shows how much sonic and thematic ground the group can cover with one pure vocal and a couple of acoustic guitars. The gently plucked opening notes may conjure images of Kansas' "Dust in the Wind," but that vibe quickly dissipates once Robin Pecknold's high, clear, plaintive voice soars into the picture.

At first, "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" seems content to mourn philosophically — "Dear shadow, alive and well / How can the body die / You tell me everything / Anything true" — but by the end, it's only grown more complicated. When Pecknold laments, "I don't know what I have done / I'm turning myself to a demon," it's clear that in Fleet Foxes' world, beauty and darkness not only coexist, but ultimately share the same form.

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