Fleet Foxes Take a Successful, Proggy Turn on Their Third Album, ‘Crack-Up’

Six years after their sophomore album and almost a decade on from their 2008 debut, Fleet Foxes have released their third full-length, Crack-Up, on June 16. The album finds Robin Pecknold and company exploring new sonic territory.

fleet foxes crack up album fleetfoxesalbumcoverMany of the songs on Crack-Up take something of a progressive turn, featuring multiple movements and various digressions. Opening track “I Am All That I Need / Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar,” as the name suggests moves through three different sections, beginning quietly with little more than Pecknold’s voice and gently strummed guitar before more guitar, strings, and drums abruptly jump in, mid-line. This second, livelier section, continues for most of the song before ending as suddenly as it began. A brief third section returns to the soft folk of the song’s beginning. As it begins to fade out, an experimental coda enters—a sample of a high school chorus performing the band’s breakout song “White Winter Hymnal.”

Not all of the songs on Crack-Up are as complicated as its opening track. “Kept Woman” and “Fool’s Errand” both hew closer, though not entirely, to a traditional verse-chorus-verse structure than the rest of the album. The refrain in “Kept Woman” contains the first words of the song and doesn’t repeat until the song’s end. Meanwhile, for much of its four and three-quarter minute runtime, “Fool’s Errand” feels like a classic Fleet Foxes song before closing out with an extended coda on the piano.

Both the more accessible, pop-oriented songs and the darker proggy songs are essential to Crack-Up. Taken together, they present a band expanding and experimenting with its sound without losing the core sound that makes it unique. Though Crack-Up is less immediately accessible than Fleet Foxes or Helplessness Blues, it rewards multiple listens.

Fleet Foxes’ Crack-Up is out now through Nonesuch Records and is available on Amazon, iTunes, and Nonesuch’s online shop.

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