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Fleet Foxes * 4.20.11 * BBC Radio 1 Maida Vale Studio





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A folk scene containing Fleet Foxes is a little like a 100-metres race containing Usain Bolt: everyone else is competing for second place.

The Seattle band's self-titled debut was an enchanting amalgam of traditional folk, hymnal music and Sixties pop that gained them comparisons with a contemporary Crosby, Stills & Nash or a bucolic Beach Boys.

Three years on, they have returned to our shores to promote its eagerly awaited follow-up, Helplessness Blues, which is released next month. On Tuesday it was Later
With Jools Holland; last night it was BBC's Maida Vale studios for a live showcase on Zane Lowe's Radio 1 show. Glancing down from the studio's balcony, it was immediately clear that worldwide recognition hasn't heralded an overhaul of the band's wardrobe: plaid shirts, woolly hats and mighty beards remain de rigueur for these unflashy folkies. The music, however, has developed.

Montezuma's refrain of "oh my, what I used to be" was full of self-questioning and regret - recurring themes of the second album.

At the other end of the spectrum, Bedouin Dress's bouncy piano stabs and groovy bassline were more Steely Dan than Steeleye Span.

Battery Kinzie galloped on the stampeding beats of drummer Josh Tillman. Without turning the amps up to 11, Fleet Foxes have beefed up their sound.

They have also been joined by a new recruit, Morgan Henderson, who augmented the songs with flourishes of flute and violin. This brought a jazzier dimension to the new tracks, which owe something to Van Morrison's Astral Weeks.

The bedrock, however, remains the voice and guitar of frontman Robin Pecknold. Sim Sala Bim, a Nick Drake-esque ballad, showcased his dextrous finger-picking; the eight-minute epic The Shrine/An Argument pushed his tenor into its raspier reaches.

To speak about one voice in Fleet Foxes, of course, is to slightly miss the point: the real magic happens when their voices combine. Mykonos, one of only two tracks to be played from their debut, came wreathed in glorious four-part harmonies, while the a capella section that brought Grown Ocean - and this glorious 40-minute set - to a close was brave and brilliant.

-- BBC Radio 1


In that dream I'm as old as the mountains
Still is starlight reflected in fountains
Children grown on the edge of the ocean
Kept like jewelry, kept with devotion

In that dream moving slow through the morning

You would come to me then without answers
Lick my wounds and remove my demands for now
Eucalyptus and orange trees are blooming
In that dream there's no darkness a-looming

In that dream moving slow through the morning time
In that dream I could hardly contain it
All my life I will wait to attain it
There, there, there

I know someday the smoke will all burn off
All these voices I'll someday have turned off
I will see you someday when I've woken
I'll be so happy just to have spoken
I'll have so much to tell you about it

In that dream I could hardly contain it
All my life I will wait to attain it
There, there, there

Wide-eyed walker, don't betray me
I will wake one day, don't delay me
Wide-eyed leaver, always going