Music Review: Fleet Foxes' Sun Giant

by Vincent Lee

EP's tend to be either dense collections of weak B-sides and remakes or a great group of songs you wish were a full album. Fleet Foxes' latest EP Sun Giant is the latter. It comes in at five songs and eighteen minutes, which could be considered short even for an EP. Yet in this small amount of time the Fleet Foxes demonstrate a great amount of potential and make the listener yearn for a full album. (The band actually promises to have a full album out sometime this summer.)

The initial reaction to the Fleet Foxes is the shocking vocals. The lead singer's voice holds stunning similarities to My Morning Jacket's Jim James. The outstanding vocals go a long way to add to the depth and character of this release. Fleet Foxes describe themselves as “baroque harmonic pop jams.” In some ways this bizarre description may oddly enough seem correct.

Each song is unique and special in its own right. None of them even span five minutes, yet they find ways to travel and develop in ways many eight-minute “epics” fail to do. The opener “Sun Giant” feels like a bizarre choir chant, but does a fantastic job of capturing the outstanding highs and lows of Fleet Foxes' vocal harmonies. The following three songs are faster, but go about their sonic travels in different ways. “Drops in the River” constantly develops and progresses by adding more and more instruments and sounds. “English House” begins as a quiet piece, but develops suddenly, then settles back into a quiet conclusion. “Mykonos” is probably the most dynamic and “loud” of the three. It reaches its peak rather quickly, but does not let up in its wonderful jamming. The finale “Innocent Son” is arguably the best of the group. Oddly enough, this song “travels” the least of the five, but showcases the lyrical and vocal talent of the group better than any of the others.

There is no definitive weakness to this EP. Most listeners will probably enjoy Fleet Foxes. This is not to say the EP is some sort of classic. Then again, that is about the only knock one could offer against it. It is a consistent and strong EP, that is hopefully an indicator of the great album that is yet to come.

(Promotional photo of Fleet Foxes from Sub Pop Records. Fleet Foxes will play in Madison, WI tonight, April 8, as the group tours North America. To see the band playing "Summertime" at Neumos in Seattle from earlier this year, please check below.)

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