Song of the Day #842: ‘White Winter Hymnal’ – Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes’ 2008 debut likely represents the largest gap in this week’s lineup between the critical reception and my own. This album was praised as the second coming of the Messiah by countless magazines and websites.

Reading those reviews, I got the impression Fleet Foxes could solve the Middle East conflict if you could just get those leaders to share a set of earbuds.

So I suppose a letdown was inevitable when I purchased the CD with extremely high hopes. I mean, I’m always looking for the next wonderful thing and this looked like as good a candidate as any. Even the album’s artwork was fascinating, with its Renaissance festival fresco feel. The music promised to be a resonant mixture of the classic and the contemporary.

And it is that, but it’s also incredibly boring. I’ll hand it to these guys for harmonizing like few bands since The Beach Boys, and for tapping into the Appalachian jug band vibe so effectively. But what I didn’t hear (and haven’t heard after a few more listens) are any actual, you know, songs.

First single ‘White Winter Hymnal’ is the closest thing they’ve got, and even this starts to lose me after a minute or so.

For my money, The Shins do this sort of thing ten times better.

I was following the pack
all swallowed in their coats
with scarves of red tied ’round their throats
to keep their little heads
from fallin’ in the snow
And I turned ’round and there you go
And, Michael, you would fall
and turn the white snow red as strawberries
in the summertime..

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #842: ‘White Winter Hymnal’ – Fleet Foxes

  1. Dana says:

    well, they are definitely going for a particular vibe, but not really a vibe I care for. I tend to need some edge to my music, either musically or lyrically, if not both. This song is edgeless.

  2. pegclifton says:

    I’m intrigued by the lyrics of this song, is it a simply sweet song about children playing in the snow or something more sinister?? Anyway, I like it.

  3. Amy says:

    I agree that the lyrics suggest something sinister…. even the music becomes louder and more… tense?… as the song goes on.

    I looked to see what sort of interpretations were out there, and I came across everything from the song is a depiction of war or revolution to it’s a scene from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Regardless, others clearly are just as curious as you are, Peg.

    I also like the song.

  4. pegclifton says:

    Yeah, I saw the same interpretations Amy, interesting.

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