Twenty years ago, Sub Pop records founders Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman started a zine that promoted the "decentralization of pop culture." Their quest was clear: Free music from the chains of corporate control.
Fleet Foxes' Sub Pop debut is proof that Pavitt and Poneman's battle has been won. Spin this disc a few times and you might conclude, blissfully, that the pop era as we know it is over.
Why? Because Fleet Foxes demonstrate the astonishing artistic freedom musicians have in 2008.
Vocal harmonies are a constant in the Fleet Foxes sound, but the instrumentation is a lush mix of dulcimer, mandolin, organ, rolling tom drums, guitars, even harp. The songs are mature beyond this young Seattle band's years, invoking the pop of the Beach Boys, the folk of Crosby, Stills & Nash and the singer-songwriter skills of Simon & Garfunkel.
It all makes for a gorgeous record, one that would never have seen the light of day in multi-platinum times gone by.