Fleet Foxes – Shore review: A hauntingly beautiful collection crafted by atypical times

Getty Images for Coachella
Getty Images for Coachella

As 2020 releases go, Shore stands out as an opus clearly crafted by these atypical times. Robin Pecknold left LA’s Electro-Vox studio in March, abandoning the album session as lockdown loomed.

But while the virus took hold, the genius behind Fleet Foxes found solace behind the wheel, driving through upstate New York. The lyrics which he’d struggled over came to him on the road.

From the opening acoustic guitar of Wading in Waist-High Water, the 15 songs are a soothing balm to our new normal, an aural equivalent of watching a gentle tide roll in as the sun dips into the sea.

Sunblind is an elegy to his songwriting heroes: “For Richard Swift, for John and Bill, for every gift lifted far before its will”, (the latter being John Prine and Bill Withers).

And as the album progresses you pick up on other influences. Brian Wilson looms large. For A Week Or Two is a clear nod to the Beach Boys Smile era with its goosepimpling harmonies: “Some lost coast, some bright days, no face on your young head. Piece of wheat, in your teeth, carrying water, pears, and bread”. There’s even birdsong as the track fades out.

It’s a hauntingly beautiful album that grows in stature with every play.