The Fleet Foxes led one of the most unlikely trends of the 21st century’s first decade – a folk revival. The album nearly went gold in the U.S. and peaked at #3 in the U.K. It paved the way for similar acts like Mumford & Sons – who would achieve platinum, top-ten success in the wake of the Fleet Foxes.
The band hailed from the Northwest region of the U.S., but there was no mistaking their sound with their grunge brethren from the same region two decades earlier. Instead, the Fleet Foxes sounded like they came out of the Appalachian mountains several generations before that. The group “happily admit to aspiring to an earlier tradition – not just obvious antecedents like the Byrds, …Neil Young and, especially, David Crosby's famously unfocussed solo album If Only I Could Remember My Name but ancient English folk songs and their later American descendents.” SJ
The Fleet Foxes describe their music as “baroque harmonic pop jams,” SJ but under any name “there’s a striking purity to Fleet Foxes’ sound.” HP “It’s the ease and skill with which they mix and match British and American folk and rock from the far and not too distant past that makes the band’s music so refreshing.” HP They fill their songs with “chiming melodies and harmonies that sound like they’ve been summoned from centuries of traditional songs.” HP However, in the process, they “master the art of taking familiar influences and making them sound fresh again.” HP
“White Winter Hymnal is remarkably beautiful, building from a vocal round into glorious jangle pop with big, booming drums that lend a sense of adventure as the spine-tingling melody lightens some of the lyrics’ darkness.” HP
“The suite-like Ragged Wood moves from a galloping beat to sparkling acoustic picking, then takes a trippy detour before returning to a more thoughtful version of its main theme. Quiet Houses and He Doesn’t Know Why’s driving pianos show off the band's flair for drama.” HP
“Dazzling songs like these are surrounded by a few songs that find the band leaning a little more heavily on its influences. Your Protector nods to Zeppelin’s misty, mournful side, and Blue Ridge Mountains is the kind of earthy yet sophisticated song CSNY would have been proud to call their own.” HP
The album was well-received critically; it was described in The Guardian as “a landmark in American music, an instant classic.” WKUncut called it “the most rewarding album of the past 12 months.” WK It made of slew of best-of year-end lists.