by Blaine Payer ’18
After six years of silence following their 2011 Grammy-nominated album, Helplessness Blues, the indie-folk band Fleet Foxes has ended their hiatus. The group is expected to begin touring in May, coinciding with the release of their highly anticipated third album, Crack-Up. With a new single released in early March and an ever-growing list of upcoming tour dates, the future of the Fleet Foxes has not only come out from the shadows, but it looks brighter than ever.
Front man and principle songwriter Robin Pecknold had been teasing both his own solo work as well as various mysterious recording sessions on Instagram for months, never offering fans any concrete information on the future of the group. Fans had been left wondering what happened to the Fleet Foxes for years, including how the band quietly slipped into silence seemingly at the height of their popularity.
The bassist of Fleet Foxes released a statement back in 2012, saying that Pecknold had relocated to New York with the intention of going back to school, and thus was taking a break from producing music. Now a recent graduate of Columbia University’s School of General Studies, Pecknold told Pitchfork, “I thought that everyone who wanted to see us got a chance to back then, and it would have been redundant to keep touring and I might as well do something else.”
Pecknold couldn’t have been more wrong. The announcement of the band’s return to the studio has garnered a significant amount of attention on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Their new single, “Third of May/Ōdaîgahara,” has racked up nearly 2 million views in two weeks, an impressive number for the notoriously under-the-radar indie group.
Regarding the new album, Pecknold states that it comes from a very contemplative place in his life, chronicling things like his relationship with bandmate and best friend, Skyler Skjelset, as well as his own struggle with finding something to live for. “I feel like Crack-Up begins in pure conflicted solitude,” says Pecknold, “and ends in a bright clearing.” Although he had hoped that his return to school would lead him down a more intellectual route with his lyrics, he claims that even though he learned a lot in his time at Columbia, he mostly just defaulted back to his gut instincts when it came to the direction of his work.
Needless to say, the new single makes the upcoming album look very promising. It is an effortless mix of the old folksy-bluesy sound that catapulted Fleet Foxes into fame back in 2009, as well as a clear turn to a more epic sound, like the transition from a Shakespearean sonnet to a Homeric epic. “I wasn’t focusing on music, I was trying to find other hobbies but nothing else had quite the same pull,” Pecknold revealed. It is safe to say that everyone is thankful that he didn’t find another hobby, for he still has so much more to offer to this one.