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Fleet Foxes

"Battery Kinzie"


[Sub Pop; 2011]



By ; March 29, 2011 
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Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

For fans of Fleet Foxes, it has been an especially long wait for their imminent sophomore LP, Helplessness Blues. The one-two punch of their excellent Sun Giant EP and self-titled debut in 2008 made waves from Seattle to Europe and back again, with appearances on SNL, Letterman and the like along the way in what was a meteoric rise from folk-revivalist obscurity. It was this rapidly-evolving success story and subsequent touring that initially stalled the recording of their follow-up effort, a process which proved to be fragmented and, if Robin Pecknold’s Twitter is any indication, rather indecisive in regards to the band’s overall approach.

Amidst this hesitancy, we heard solid solo records from drummer J. Tillman as well as unaccompanied gigs from Robin, more recently in support for Joanna Newsom. It was from these performances where bootlegs of new songs had been surfacing – a trend that has been especially amplified with the help of YouTube – and it’s where “Battery Kinzie” had first met new ears. (Mostly under the incorrect title, “Lorelai,” which will also appear on Helplessness.)

By himself, we hear a subdued version, with Robin’s enveloping tenor flying high above the gleaming rings of his 12-string, but filled out with the band’s signature organic harmonies and verdant instrumentation, this track is injected with an energy we’ve really yet to hear from the group. Unfortunately, on the studio recording, Robin’s 12-string takes a back seat to the bass drum, which leads this pomp with its persistent eighth notes and counters a hammering piano all the way to the end of a relatively short piece that is, dare I say, fit for radio, and thus opposes most of what we’ve been told this album would sound like. While the extended jams will surely be present when Helplessness Blues is released on May 3rd, “Battery Kinzie” and its simplistic, pop-centric structure is still nice to hear from a band that seems bent on differentiating their sound as much as possible from Fleet Foxes. Lyrically it retains the vibrant storytelling quality that characterizes Robin’s writing, however vague it is, and completes what is ultimately a small part of what promises to be a sundry yet familiar Fleet Foxes record; “At the door a stranger stood/The stranger’s voice said nothing good/I turned to walk the frozen ground alone/All of the way home.”

Fleet Foxes – Battery Kinzie by One Thirty BPM


7/10







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