For the first time in almost six years, Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold’s distinctive voice has brought life to new lyrics with the release of their new single, “Third of May / Ōdaigahara.” The track was joined by the announcement of their third full-length album, Crack-Up, which is set to be released on June 16.
Although much has changed since the Seattle group last made a presence, their style seems to still be quintessentially “Fleet Foxes;” a rarity in a current indie-music-renaissance exacerbated by multiple streaming services that has led many artists resorting to experimental techniques in a new environment controlled by virality and unconventionality. Their song, like greeting an old friend after a long period of separation, is familiar, yet different, as listeners are met with a sound that echoes prior work without reverberating unoriginality. The new material may reunite one’s ear with similar elements of the past, but it hardly engages in small talk; instead, it explores a conversation of an entirely new depth that listeners have not been acquainted with.
The rapport between music and listener has only been enhanced in “Third of May / Ōdaigahara” as writer and composer Pecknold initiates an open dialogue with his transparent execution, both lyrically and literally. In a Pitchfork interview, Pecknold discusses the themes of perception that the album explores. Additionally, the Washington native has added his own commentary on the lyrics of, “Third of May / Ōdaigahara” on the collaborative website Genius, giving devotees a rare and explicit explanation of certain lines. This correspondence between creator and consumer alleviates the strained relationship often present between imagery and a curious audience, and in turn resolves the usual arguments about lyrical interpretations far in advance. Not only that, but Pecknold’s ideas and clips that have been shared over the months on his Instagram creates a new experience that only a few fans can say they’ve ever had with a favored artist. Fleet Foxes’ transparency with their album has added a dimensionality that breaches traditional barriers.
Branching away from their bucolic settings, Fleet Foxes appear to have submerged themselves into deep reflective pools, led by Pecknold’s own internal venturing as he struggled with personal conflict and finding a “solid, objective reason” to live, as told to Pitchfork. From the subject of the first single — a very candid report of the struggles Pecknold faced with his longtime friend and bandmate Skyler Skjelset –– the rest of the album can be expected to focus on corresponding ideas drowning in confusion and conflict. Even the name of the LP, Crack-Up, implies internal incongruence as Pecknold described the feeling of, “a stained glass window that has been shattered and reassembled” to be conveyed.
Among the tracklist, allusions to folklore and culture, from the song title, “Mearcstapa” that references a description of Grendel the monster in Beowulf, to the reference to the haunting Goya painting, “The Third of May 1808,” are expected to only intensify the already expectedly compelling album. As reliable and timeless Fleet Foxes have been in their history, as long as they stay anchored to their best qualities as they explore the open ocean of content, the only thing that will be breaking under pressure is the title of the album.
Written by Delaney Gomen