Monday, December 29, 2014

Fleet Foxes - Sun Giant EP (2008)

Best Song: Mykonos


Robin Pecknold – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Songwriting
Skyler Skjelset – Lead Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals
Casey Wescott – Piano, Keyboards, Vocals
Christian Wargo – Bass, Vocals
Nicholas Peterson – Drums, Vocals


Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about good modern folk.

Fleet Foxes burst onto the national music scene in 2008, after becoming much beloved critical sensations in their hometown of Seattle. Their locally produced limited run debut EP, released in 2006, is sadly out of print, but a few months before becoming indie darlings with their debut LP, they released the Sun Giant EP, so let's start there.

Sun Giant is the perfect starting point, since it showcases virtually all of their strengths. While I don't think it's totally fair to say that Robin Pecknold is Fleet Foxes, he is the sole songwriter and lead singer for all of their songs. It's essentially Fairport Convention style folk rock with gorgeous Beach Boys-esque harmonies. Acoustic guitars and harmonies typically dominate the mix, with the occasional jangly or sharp electric guitar crashing in, usually at climactic or tension building/releasing moments. The only sign that Fleet Foxes are from the 2000's are some of the guitar tones employed occasionally.

The only thing holding Sun Giant back is its short length, because the material is pretty universally fantastic. The opening mostly a capella title track immediately showcases their remarkably beautiful harmonies, and the following “Drops in the River” and “English House” are great, hooky, lush folk rock. “Mykonos” is the main reason to own this EP, as it might possibly be the best song they ever did. It's the first truly epic track in the Fleet Foxes canon, with a great verse and chorus melody building up the tension to be released in the battle charge sounded by the “Brother, you don't need to turn me away” section. The closing “Innocent Son” is probably the weakest track, as it's a bit too mellow without being as pretty as the other material, but it's still quite genial and pleasant.

All in all, this is a very promising start to Fleet Foxes' musical career, and I don't see why lovers of 60's and 70's folk rock, or classic pop/rock in general, wouldn't greatly enjoy this. If you already own and enjoy Fleet Foxes' debut and haven't bothered exploring the band past that – which is the case for many people – this is essentially more of the same. If you haven't bothered getting into them at all, there's nothing wrong with starting here.

Rating: 11/15


  1. You pretty much had me at Beach Boys and Fairport Convention (and I've only ever heard Fairport's lesser debut and a few tracks off "Liege & Lief"). Actually, maybe it's the title of the best track that got me: does the song have anything to do with the Greek island of Mykonos?

    1. I've only heard Unhalfbricking and Liege & Lief, but they have a fairly similar approach musically, I think, so I thought they were a good point of comparison.

      Are you a fellow ancient/classical culture enthusiast? Mykonos is referenced in the song, certainly, but it seems to lyrically be about somebody running away from their problems. Robin Pecknold probably just thought Mykonos sounded cool, and he was right.

    2. Not only am I an enthusiast, I'm actually a Canadian-born Greek. That's why I've always loved the Beatles' "Girl", because it sounds so much like the Greek music I grew up with.