I would consider Fleet Foxes my favorite indie folk band of all time. I first fell in love back in 2011, with the band’s second full length album release, “Helplessness Blues”. From there, I worked backwards in their discography, moving from their self-titled LP to their EP, “Sun Giant”. Fleet Foxes did release one EP before this in 2006, but I’ve never heard a song from it and from what I’ve read only 50 copies exist in the world.
In preparation for reviewing Fleet Foxes’ record “Crack Up”, which came out earlier this year, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at their previous releases. Obviously, I’m starting with “Sun Giant”, because for me this is the genesis of the band and the sound they cultivated on each future release.
Typical for an extended play release, “Sun Giant” is a mere 19 minutes long and 5 tracks. The opener of the EP, which is named “Sun Giant” itself, starts things off with a bit of a sputter. Robin Pecknold’s lyrics are beautiful, evoking such a romantic view of the natural world that has been a common theme through all of Fleet Foxes’ history and Robin’s voice is an ethereal thing of beauty. But the lack of instrumentation on the song definitely leaves a void, as if it is more of a demo than an actual complete piece of music.
The next three tracks on the EP, “Drops in the River”, “English House”, and “Mykonos” contain a more complete vision and are excellent songs in the Fleet Foxes discography. With “Drops in the River”, we have a beautifully sung, quiet introduction with just what sounds like the scraping of some stringed instruments before an electric guitar bursts in with some clean chords and Robin’s voice raises to match. “English House” is a jaunty tune with a lot of “oohs” being sung, another common characteristic to Fleet Foxes. I really like the clean guitar tone and just the amalgamation of instruments on this track that comes together seamlessly.
My favorite song on the EP hands down is “Mykonos”. This feels like the most fleshed-out song on the EP and is most reminiscent of the sound Fleet Foxes would steer towards on their future albums. Even now, it is one of my favorite songs from the band, period. There is a great rhythm to “Mykonos” and it really is a rocking folk song with the band’s instrumentation in full effect.
The EP ends with “Innocent Son”, which to be honest I don’t like. To me it has many of the same problems as the song “Sun Giant”, with a lack of an interesting melody or chorus and the sparse instrumentation does not do it any favors.
“Sun Giant” is an EP with hints of the greatness that would become commonplace for Fleet Foxes on their full length releases. However, it is bogged down by a slow start and a whimpering ending. Still, the meat of the EP is great and I still come back to it for “Mykonos” and “Drops in the River” in particular.