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Album Review: Shore by Fleet Foxes

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Fleet Foxes are an indie folk band from Seattle. They formed in 2006 and released a favorite of mine in 2008, their self-titled debut album. While I haven't ventured in to much of their other work, I was recommended their 2017 album, Crack-Up. I honestly didn't listen to that album until earlier this year, but I was blown away. It is easily one of my top albums of the 2010s. Going from that, I was a bit worried by what this album had in store, but I am surprised and glad it turned out well. Shore marks their fourth studio album.

The first track from the album is Wading In Waist-High Water. It's one of the shorter tracks from the album, but it brings us back to the welcoming vocals and guitars from Fleet Foxes. It's such a different tone than what their previous album, Crack-Up, opened up with. Definitely not complaining about their more subtle and calm opening. They also were able to recruit the help of Uwade Akhere to sing some vocals on this track.

Sunblind opens up with a strange horn section, as well as the piano and string section. The true magical moment comes from the build-up before the chorus each time. You just have this pounding sensation that starts to get louder, and then finally lets loose during the grand moment of the chorus. The track pays homage to some of Pecknold's influences and inspirations. He talks a lot about artists who have passed away, but still wants to remember.

Can I Believe You is a favorite of mine, as well as many others. You have a quiet chorus of voices that open up the track. When there quick little chorus is over, the guitar and other string instruments join in on the melody. Also, Pecknold really shines on this track with his vocal talents. It's just pure moment of bliss during the chorus, and then some more playful sections on other parts of the track. According to Pecknold, this track talks about the hang-ups of letting someone into your life, more so the trustworthiness of a new relationship.

Jara opens up with a strange sound effect, and it almost sounds like some vocals that were mixed and matched. They are also introduced on other small snippets during the track. This track also matches the intensity and energy from the last track, but I'm not getting the same feeling of bliss and happiness. While the title Jara is a reference to Victor Jara, he talks about how the track isn't about him. It's more of a tribute to him, kind of like how Sunblind was.

Featherweight opens up with a distorted-like guitar part. However, it's definitely reminiscent of their folk sounding tracks from previous albums. The opening vocals almost make them sound like Whitney in a strange way. The layers of guitars just makes this so powerful in instrumentation, as well as the piano that slowly carries this track on. The chorus is where you can hear the true beauty of this track, especially with the random piano notes thrown in there.

A Long Way Past The Past definitely has to be my top favorite track from the album if I had to pick one. It was a tough choice, but this track is just another high-energy track, and it's somewhat reminiscent of their previous album. It has a pretty simple guitar and string part that carries the track, but the power of the vocals is definitely the highlight here. The harmonies and horn sections during the chorus just make it that much more memorable. This track seems to be talking about how much some people are focusing on the past, and how you can move past that.

For A Week Or Two marks the shortest track on the album, and it's just a little bit longer than two minutes in length. The chorus of voices that open up the track give a feeling of some of their older work. It's pretty simple in instrumentation, mostly just the piano and their voices. During this track, Pecknold talks a lot about the different backpacking experiences he has had. He said that his first few records had a rural vibe since there weren't too many experiences to go off of.

Maestranza starts off with some guitar chords that carry the tempo of the track. You just get entranced in that sound, especially with the build up during the chorus. He talks about how this track used to have more of a disco feeling, but they rearranged the track to get a different feel for it, which is good since this is another great track. Also, the guitar change up during the bridge also makes for some more memorable moments on this track. The last half of the track talks about the missing of friends and hanging out with others, which is what all of us are experiencing right now.

Besides the vocals, I'm getting more of a rock vibe from Young Man's Game. You have your roaring guitar part as the main backing, as well as the drumkit backing it up. Since the title of the track talks about a younger person, he thought it would be unique to have a younger person to sing the track. However, they just decided have someone younger to sing on certain parts of the track. Pecknold talks about the feeling of being young, immature, and not knowing the meaning to anything.

I'm Not My Season starts out with an ocean like sound that started at the end of the previous track. It also tones down the album with a subtle guitar and lone vocalist. It's okay track, but I can definitely tell he has put a lot into this track with the powerful vocals. He talks about time just being something that is around you, and you aren't tied to time. He also talks about the somewhat strange idea of, "you're not what's happening to you."

Quiet Air / Gioia opens up with some sort of strange guitar and piano chords, almost mysterious-like in nature. The vocals also match that mysterious and ominous feeling. He also talks about how quiet air might terrify you in the first verse of the track. About halfway through the track, the tone of the track cuts to something completely different. However, it still keeps on the theme of danger and possibly death.

Going-to-the-Sun-Road opens up with a beautiful horn and string section that we haven't quite seen yet on this album. You just have this serene feeling of peace and nature all around you. Peckold has told us before that these newer albums talk about his experiences from backpacking, or experiences that he wants to have one day. Also, the title of the track is about a famous road in Montana. He wants to show this special place to someone else. There's also a Portuguese section at the end of the track.

Thymia is another short, just over two minutes in length track. It opens up with a quiet guitar part that has been reminiscent of other parts of the album. It's another minimalist track, but you do have some horn sections in there that make the track a bit more beautiful in tone. However at this point in the album, it's almost as if we had this track already, and I'm wanting something new or different by now. At least it's a quick track thrown towards the end.

Cradling Mother, Cradling Woman is another one of my many favorites from the album. It's also the longest track from the album since it's just a little over five minutes in length. After the slow start and the counting at the beginning, it opens up with a huge horn section to bring life to the track. There's just this grand moment towards the end, and then it suddenly just stops and cuts out to a strange, going out effect.

The last and final track of the album is the title track, Shore. There's a quiet piano that plays on through the entire track. However, the reverb/echo is definitely getting to me and throwing me off during the moments without vocals. The last half of the track is quite strange with the different sections thrown in there, and the more experimental side of the album. You have different notes and instruments all mixed together. Pecknold talks about how this track is tying up loose ends and thanking the people around him that have influenced him.

Overall Rating: 8/10
Favorite Tracks: Sunblind, Can I Believe You, Featherweight, A Long Way Past The Past, Maestranza, Cradling Mother, Cradling Woman
 
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