Album Review

Fleet Foxes/Sun Giant EP (Special Edition)

Fleet Foxes/Sun Giant EP (Special Edition)

by Fleet Foxes


Sub Pop/Bella Union
7.5 / 10
9th June 2009

Reviewed by Paul Gallagher


During the final days of winter last year I sat in a Newtown coffee shop with a good friend of mine and decried the talented musicianship that makes up the music of Fleet Foxes. I had foolishly written them off as being some sort of Grizzly Bear covers band - I just didn't get it and I wasn't going to get it until spring melted into summer and I made the move up to Auckland for a few months and I had the time to absorb it as I wiled away arcadian days. Of course, I came around and stopped being such a difficult audiophile. The Fleet Foxes simply released one of the best albums of 2008: a heart-warming splendour of sound that unabashedly lifted spirits and moods with great folk harking back to the revery in the depths of the glory days Americana music. The self-titled album won almost universal praise across all spectrum of reviewers.The 'Sun Giant EP', intended to boost up merchandise sales whilst the band toured, also faired well with much critical acclaim. The album sold hundreds of thousands of copies in both the United Kingdom and the United States and no doubt hundreds of thousands more within the space between all corners of the globe.

You will no doubt now be familiar with the soaring vocals of Robin Pecknold and the impeccable arrangements and musicianship of the remaining four members - including J. Tillman, a notable musician and solo artist in his own right. Though most of these musicians are Seattle natives merely in their 20s, they perform with a maturity and an ability beyond their years tapping into the notoriety and tradition of the likes of the Beach Boys, Nick Drake, Love, Crosby Stills and Nash, and the 1960s English folk movement. The songs 'Mykonos', 'White Winter Hymnal', 'Tiger Mountain Peasant Song', 'Oliver James', and 'He Doesn't Know Why' have left lasting impressions on committed fans and curious passersby alike. There exists a pious fragily within their tracks, built upon the harmonious unity evident within the vocal pleasantries of the band's members.

And what happens if your releases are some of the most critically acclaimed and profitable ventures that your record labels have ever experienced? A Special Edition release of course! Sub Pop and Bella Union look to reach out to the remainder of the untapped and lucrative market of those fans of indie folk by releasing the 'Sun Giant EP' and the Fleet Foxes self-titled album in a single package. It contains 17-tracks of the most perfectly fey folk music released in recent years, and as an introductory package for those who have not bought either of the individual releases or who are newcomers to the music of the Fleet Foxes this is an essentially perfect combination. But for those die-hard fans who have already bought the EP and the album and who are eagerly waiting for more, there is little excitement. However, there are some tantalizing differences - a new song, 'False Knight on the Road', has been tacked onto the end of the Sun Giant EP and the dominant single of the EP itself, 'Mykonos', is delivered in an alternate form. But other than that, the release itself offers little. The album itself is the same, as is the art, the packaging and the liner notes.

But it is hard to write off this Special Edition release as a cynical earning exercise - the band's attitudes and the sheer quality of their music places them unexposed to such criticism. If you were lucky enough to see them perform live at their sold out shows earlier this year, then you will know the band to be a charming, affable and well oiled unit whose interaction with their fans is flattering in its humble acceptance.

How to wrap up a review of a release made up of two previous releases? Simply, if you have been in a coma for the last year and a half and do not have the individual EP and self-titled album already this certainly is the release that you should buy. But if you are a die-hard fan looking for something special to buy to express your unrelenting love for Fleet Foxes et al, then perhaps your money would be better spent on the delicately packaged 7-inch vinyl single of 'Mykonos' which features the new track 'False Knight on the Road' as the b-side.

Paul Gallagher




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