When I first heard the debut self-titled Fleet Foxes album, back in 2008, about when it was released, I could tell it was an instant classic. It is rare when an album strikes one as a classic even when it is completely new. Normally, it takes many years of time for one to be able to look back and label an album as “classic.” But, just as with the first time I heard OK, Computer in 1997, I knew Self-Title, and the companion EP Sun Giant, by Fleet Foxes was a timeless work of art.
This is also very melodic and carefully crafted music. Every melody is original and classic at the same time. The pop hooks are prevalent, yet at the same time Fleet Foxes sound more like the progressive rock days of Genesis than almost any other band. This is not despite Fleet Foxes incorporation of vocal harmony and folk music stylings. Genesis too did have some British folk influences in their compositions from the early 70s. Fleet Foxes, like some progressive rock, does not always follow a basic and usual pop song format. Instead, they find ways of cleverly putting together different “movements” and parts to form their songs in mostly unconventional ways. Their music is beautiful, catchy, powerful, wistful, organic, earthy, and spiritual. There are moments of sadness that feel one’s heart with longing, there are moments that give one goosebumps, and there are moments of transcendence.
Maybe it could be said that with Crack-Up Fleet Foxes are searching for “freedom.” Instead of the music providing the fleeting feeling of freedom, it communicates the feeling of the contemplation of possible “freedom.” Through this record, we can experience with them the human experience of waiting and searching for one who gives peace, meaning, and freedom that the world, as it is, cannot give. We are all waiting for Him, in the already but not-yet age, turning our boat in His direction in a sea of what seems like chaos and meaninglessness. We are looking through the fog hoping to see the light of His beacon. Though it is often us who attempt to force Him to show up when and how we want, instead of allowing Him to come to us as He chooses. As the lyric from Crack-Up says, “the tighter the fist, the looser the sale, so don’t resist.” The wind blows where it wants and it can be trusted. The yolk is light and the burden easy, so cease striving and know that He is with you.
There is a story of a man who was unjustly put to death, but He being not just a man but also God defeated Death and achieved complete freedom from bondage of the brokenness of our dark world. And this man said that because He rose from the dead, we will also rise to be like Him and with Him.