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Fleet Foxes Take the Sly Road -- to San Diego



    Fleet Foxes like to take their time, but it always pays off.

    Lead singer Robin Pecknold formed the indie folk band when he and guitarist Skye Skjelset were in middle school, but Fleet Foxes didn't release their first LP until 2008. Similarly, after the slow-burning album (and the tours that followed) became an unexpected success, the band took something of a break. If you know Fleet Foxes, though, this measured approach makes sense: Pecknold's aesthetic of intricate arrangements and harmonies require a lot of thought.

    In the years that followed the band's debut -- even as Pecknold toured solo with his own material -- Fleet Foxes slowly developed a new album. On May 3, their hard work will pay off with Helplessness Blues. Just like its predecessor, Helplessness Blues is already receiving plenty of praise, and the band's concert tickets are selling like hotcakes.

    The new record embraces more of a country feel than the band's previous effort. Whether the new album is adventurous is not up for debate, however. On Helplessness Blues, the band takes its  sound to a whole new level, even incorporating a raft of new instruments like hammered dulcimer, zither, wood flute, Moog, Tibetan singing bowls, vibraphone and more. In fact, Pecknold has decribed the process as so complicated that the band might do something more stripped-down next time.

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    I caught Fleet Foxes at the Casbah in 2008 and when Pecknold toured solo with Joanna Newsom last year; both shows were excellent. Fleet Foxes will return to San Diego on May 6, but it looks like the band's small-venue days are over; this time around, Pecknold & Co. are going straight to Spreckels Theater. Get your tickets here.

    T. Loper is a writer and photographer for the San Diego music blog Owl and Bear.