Fleet Foxes’ new album “Shore” released after much anticipation from the indie rock band. However, the album is about as interesting as watching the tides come in and go out.
The album, released by Warner Records, features a sound that the band is known for: easy listening indie folk rock. There are 15 tracks on the album, encompassing approximately 47 minutes of music with songs each anywhere from four to two minutes in length. “Shore” is the band’s fourth studio album.
Fleet Foxes has a successful history of easy-to-listen-to folk music starting all the way back on their first album in 2007. This album should be a culmination of their sound given they’ve had a roughly 15-year career in music but frankly, this album leaves much to desired. Each of the short tracks sound very similar to the point of disinterest. It’s not that the songs are bad; it’s that the songs don’t change from one another. I’m confident most would not be able to discern one track from another on a first round of listening to the whole album, but of course, you’d have to make it that far.
The band doesn’t really change its instrumentation, timbres, or lyrical content between songs. The band’s frontman Robin Pecknold described the album as “an album celebrating life in the face of death, honoring our lost musical heroes in the lyrics…” Unfortunately, Mr. Pecknold, you forgot to honor those musical heroes in the music. The whole album sounds like background noise from a dingy dive bar in Seattle, which makes sense given that’s the band’s hometown. There’s something to be said about the musical evolution of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest as a whole. It was pretty much the musical Mecca in the 90s and early 2000s creating bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Rage Against the Machine. It may seem unfair to compare an indie folk band to the grunge greats, but those bands knew how to step it up musically. Fleet Foxes does not. The lyrics are only half of a song and if interesting lyrics are supported by blandness, the whole effect falls apart.
One of the bigger issues in their musical content is there’s clearly an ounce of musical genius underneath the bland exterior. There are very brief outcroppings of great musical ideas that are quickly swept under the rug of bland folk music. For example, Fleet Foxes like to double their own voices to create a lush, almost choral sound at parts. That’s a great technique but if its only done to make your sound bigger, then it can come off as a waste especially with a band like Fleet Foxes known for their acoustic aesthetic.
Ultimately, it’s great music to just have on in the background while studying or as the soundtrack of a non-descript movie but as far as groundbreaking developments in music, “Shore” definitely isn’t it. It’s not bland. It’s just poorly executed which is a shame. “Shore” receives a C-rating.