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On June 16, Fleet Foxes will release Crack-Up (Nonesuch Records), its long-awaited and highly anticipated third album. Crack-Up comes six years after the 2011 release of Helplessness Blues and nearly a decade since the band’s 2008 self-titled debut.
All eleven of the songs on Crack-Up were written by Robin Pecknold. The album was co-produced by Pecknold and Skyler Skjelset, his longtime bandmate, collaborator, and childhood friend. Crack-Up was recorded at various locations across the United States between July 2016 and January 2017: at Electric Lady Studios, Sear Sound, The Void, Rare Book Room, Avast, and The Unknown. Phil Ek mixed the album, at Sear Sound, and it was mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound. Fleet Foxes is Robin Pecknold (vocals, multi-instrumentalist), Skyler Skjelset (multi-instrumentalist, vocals), Casey Wescott (multi-instrumentalist, vocals), Christian Wargo (multi-instrumentalist, vocals), and Morgan Henderson (multi-instrumentalist).
Fleet Foxes’ self-titled debut made a profound impact on the international musical landscape, earning them Uncut’s first ever Music Award Prize, and topping numerous “Best of” lists, including Rolling Stone’s 100 Best Albums of the 2000’s and Pitchfork’s 50 Best Albums of 2008. Fleet Foxes is certified Gold in North America and Platinum in both the UK and Australia. The follow-up album Helplessness Blues was met with the same critical praise as its predecessor (MOJO five stars, Rolling Stone four stars, Pitchfork Best New Music); that album debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Top 200, went Gold in the UK, and earned the band a GRAMMY nomination.
Hailing from Nova Scotia, Nap Eyes makes crooked, literate guitar pop refracted through the gray Halifax rain. Recorded live to tape with no overdubs, their songs are equal parts shambling and sophisticated, with one eye on the dirt and one trained on the starry firmament, inhabiting a skewed world where odes to NASA and the Earth’s magnetic field coexist easily with lyrics about insomnia and drinking too much.
In the world of Nap Eyes, workaday details punctuate (and puncture) cosmic concerns, as songwriter, singer, and rhythm guitarist Nigel Chapman wrestles with air and angels, struggling (and often failing) to reconcile the Romantic rifts, both real and imagined, that define our lives: between chaos and order; solipsism and fellowship; the anxiety of social (dis)orders both big and small; and the various intersections and oppositions of religion, art, and science.
In typically insular Halifax music scene fashion, Nap Eyes shares three of its four members—Josh Salter (bass), Seamus Dalton (drums), and Brad Loughead (lead guitar)—with two other notable local bands, kindred spirits and sometime touring partners Monomyth (Josh and Seamus’s project) and Each Other (which includes Brad as well as Nap Eyes recording engineer Mike Wright.) They’re old friends who have collaborated in various configurations over the past decade; Nigel and Brad met in high school at rock and roll camp. Though the indelibly wistful vocal melodies are Nigel’s, Josh, Seamus, and Brad are the primary architects of Nap Eyes’ keen sonic signature, which cruises briskly and beautifully along the dog-eared axes of jangle-jaded Oceanic pop music (The Clean, The Verlaines, The Go-Betweens), and through the backpages of Peter Perrett (The Only Ones, England’s Glory) and Nikki Sudden (Swell Maps, Jacobites), via all things Lou Reed and Modern Lovers, without ever sounding very much like anything else happening today.
Following the July 2015 reissue of their 2014 debut Whine of the Mystic—available in Canada from You’ve Changed Records and in the rest of the world from Paradise of Bachelors—Nap Eyes released an album of all-new material entitled Thought Rock Fish Scale in early 2016. The critically acclaimed album, described by Pitchfork as “brimming with passion and protest,” was nominated for the Polaris Music Prize.