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Fleet Foxes’ excellent new single was worth the 6-year wait

Bridgett Henwood is the co-executive producer and editorial director of Vox video.

After an almost six-year hiatus, Fleet Foxes have released the first new single off their upcoming album, Crack-Up, whose June 16 release was announced today. In an email to fans, lead singer Robin Pecknold acknowledge the band’s long absence, saying, “Bet you never thought you'd hear from us again; well, here we go,” before sharing details about the new full-length LP from Nonesuch Records.

“Third of May / Ōdaigahara,” the new song, will sound instantly familiar. The folk-rock band is known for its stirring vocal harmonies, and the single — which clocks in at an epic eight minutes and 45 seconds — is no exception. Though Pecknold hinted that Fleet Foxes’ new material would have a “different vibe” in a May 2016 Instagram post, the song features both dramatic, swelling instrumentals and delicate vocal solos emblematic of classic Fleet Foxes style.

Fans hoping the band’s new music would retain its distinctive folk harmonies are in luck. “Third of May / Ōdaigahara” is impressive — not only in length but in power and fidelity to the band’s original melodious style. The song is full of strings and piano, but is ultimately driven by the vocals. In his announcement, Pecknold said, “We're more proud of this than anything we've ever done,” and that feeling is justified here.

Fleet Foxes dropped off the map after the release of 2011’s Helplessness Blues, which peaked at No. 4 on the 2011 Billboard 200 albums chart. (DIY magazine has a good roundup of what the band members have been doing since.) Pecknold teased the forthcoming album on Instagram throughout 2016, and its much-anticipated release will be accompanied by an international tour this summer.

All 11 songs from Crack-Up, whose title is a nod to an F. Scott Fitzgerald story, were written by Pecknold, and Fleet Foxes’ current lineup includes Skyler Skjelset, Casey Wescott, Christian Wargo, and Morgan Henderson. Notably absent is the band’s former touring drummer, Josh Tillman, who currently performs as Father John Misty and has a solo album coming out on April 9. See the full track list for Crack-Up below.

  1. “I Am All That I Need / Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar”
  2. “Cassius, —”
  3. “— Naiads, Cassadies”
  4. “Kept Woman”
  5. “Third Of May / Ōdaigahara”
  6. “If You Need To, Keep Time On Me”
  7. “Mearcstapa”
  8. “On Another Ocean (January / June)”
  9. “Fool's Errand”
  10. “I Should See Memphis”
  11. “Crack-Up”

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