Just to give you my fully declaimed, hopelessly namby-pamby blogger plaints: it ’ s REALLY easy to get caught up in competition when it comes to this stuff. And if you get caught up in competition, everything becomes about time and speed. And if everything gets caught up in time and speed, well, you don ’ t write entire posts about the album cover to Crack – up, which, with an issue date of 2017, still stands as the band ’ s last album and hence theoretically validates this post, just a little more. But if you don ’ t do stuff like this, you ’ re getting ripped off, aren ’ t you? I mean by life, not by the blogosphere . We would never think of ripping you off.
And I guess part of me was a little bit nervous for the Foxes when they came back with this sucker after a six – year break and after a move from Sub Pop Records, which had essentially put them on the map, to the Warner Bros. subsidiary Nonesuch (also the arbiter of Wilco ’ s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, in due mainstream – masquerading as indie lore). I was like, oh yeah, that ’ s a cool cover, whatever … PLEASE don ’ t let this album suck. And I mean what ’ s beauty … Donald Trump ’ s president. He ’ ll probably just build an oil rig in this giant, disarmingly beautiful bog thing – y.
Something brought me back to a full – length listen to this album, though, after I think I ’ d put “ If You Need to, Keep Time on Me ” on about 14 playlists or so. It must have been something similar which lassoed me back to Broken Social Scene ’ s Hug of Thunder, an album that seemed to also come out at about the apex of this blogosphere glut involving copious seminal indie bands just piling up and reaching a sort of “ peak oil ” type of output in music (The National also put out an album that year in addition to the genesis of the venerable Cigarettes after Sex). I was going to put it on and I thought, hot da**, I ’ ve just never seen a cover like that before.
What ’ s funny is that it reminds me, in coloration and even in the trippy way the different surfaces have of blending i nto each other, of a painting by Japanese Post – Impressionist Utagawa Hiroghige. This is funny since the album work is Japanese indeed but it ’ s actuall y not ev en a painting at all, but, according to Wikipedia, “ the work of Japanese photographer Hiroshi Hamaya. ” The brilliance of the photo, though, in terms of the stark separation of the land and the sea, the illuminated vibrancy of the colors and even that strange fire way off in the background, certainly makes it hard to believe it ’ s an actual photograph. What kind of natural disasters are they HAVING in Japan? Like an apocalypse, maybe?
But anyway it certainly seems like the perfect album cover for Crack – up, sort of suggesting this realm of renewal and new beginnings, which would be made appropriate by the band ’ s concurrent switch of record label. Oh yeah and this album ain ’ t chopped liver either: the long, endless and expansive songs seem perfect for the band ’ s contentedness and genuineness, as if, with the spotlight being somewhat off of indie rock, they breathe a sigh of relief and let the core of their muse dictate the proceedings as never before. More than anything, I think, on this LP, we ’ re HEARING vintage Fleet Foxes, the result of a band freed from a former label that indeed has been notorious for putting its bands on grueling touring sche dules and even perhaps specific ally confining them within some artistic realm (No Age ’ s An Object would be corroboration of this,, which surfaced right before their own departure from Sub Pop). The possibilities on the de facto sort of “ people ’ s label ” of Nonesuch earmarked a portal into a world of shapeshifting, undulating possibilities, a deliverance typified with arguably impeccable clarity by the album ’ s cover art.