Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Fleet Foxes – If You Need To, Keep Time On Me

Our rules are simple. You use artwork that looks like George Volcano, we use it for our screencap…


Thomas Inskeep: Sounds like a cover of a “stately” Neil Young ballad from 1974. And if I wanna hear that, I’ll listen to a Neil Young ballad from 1974, not this.

Anthony Easton: For something as small and decorative as this, it reads as an almost oppressive threat — but not in a glacially self-conscious Bon Iver way, more in a war via passive-aggressive prettiness way. It ends too suddenly, and I could have used more of that piano. 

Tim de Reuse: An expression of horror and solidarity and dumbstruck awe, unfortunately half-baked. There are a couple of workably apocalyptic bits — the opening lines and the metallic growl of the piano near the end are nicely desolate — but their effectiveness only highlights the vague, acoustic fluff that everything else swims in.

Alfred Soto: More of the same blandly tuneful limpidness (the echo will cost you an extra hundred bucks), with echoes of George Harrison’s Beatles-era early songwriting experiment “I Need You.” The chivalrous title sounds like gentility.

Ryo Miyauchi: A simple set of questions, followed by simple reminders, Robin Pecknold reaches a sense of peace from separation rather gracefully than I expected in this humble mountain folk. “Were we too sure of the sun?” is one remark that hits personal for a person like me who gets freaked out when I realize just how much has passed by me while I was too busy thinking about such a thing as time.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: On Crack-Up centerpiece “Third of May / Ōdaigahara,” Robin Pecknold traces his friendship with high school friend and bandmate Skyler Skjelset. Skjelset’s birthday lands on May 3rd, and Pecknold utilizes this to make allusions to Francisco Goya’s The Third of May 1808 whilst examining the knottiness of sustained companionship and its importance during tumultuous times. “If You Need To, Keep Time On Me” follows it and should thus be seen as a quiet postlude to the nine minute epic. In an interview with Uncut, Pecknold stated that he rewrote the song after the results of the recent U.S. presidential election. As such, its first two lines express the anxiety and dread that he and others felt upon Trump’s unexpected victory. The immediate aftermath became a period of mourning for many, but life goes on, and Pecknold shifted the way in which he addresses relationships. There’s a fixation on finding blame in “Third of May / Ōdaigahara,” and he doesn’t start with himself; “did you change overnight?” is first asked before entertaining the thought, “did I change overnight?” But on the comparatively modest “If You Need To,” questions reveal a state of fear and disbelief, and this vulnerability acts to unify. Is it fair to say that on the twentieth of January, those in America were able to empathize with the Spanish on the third of May? Perhaps Pecknold thinks it is, and “If You Need To” could serve as the template for a hypothetical Goya painting that captures Madrid on the following day. One specific lyric helps set the scene — a lone person sitting in front of a dim bonfire late at night. I envision others present in the distance, the contours of their faces unclear, their bodies a monolithic stretch of muddied earth tones. As with The Third of May, there would be no sense of triumph, no leader to comfort them. The presence of light wouldn’t indicate acknowledgement from the divine, it would merely make known the current state of suffering. Even when others are grieving alongside you, it’s easy to feel like you’re alone. Pecknold consequently suggests that the best thing we can do, at least initially, is make known to others that we’re here for them. And as he sings the titular chorus, he does exactly that.

Maxwell Cavaseno: Foghorn wails through the fog (AKA reverb), meager strums of sincerity. Humility, yet unmistakeable sense of obligation to come across as important. Nobility. Stoicism. Chin-up. Sinking into a sea of one’s own gimmick without realizing you had nothing to stand on with this tune. A tragedy we could’ve all avoided.

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2 Responses to “Fleet Foxes – If You Need To, Keep Time On Me”

  1. Really happy that we decided to cover this. I hadn’t listened to the album until last night and I was surprised by how much I liked it. I also spent a lot of time just staring at the Goya painting and I inexplicably just started bawling. It was the first time in a very long while that I was so affected by a Romantic-era painting. And by one that was shown in Spanish class nearly every year too, heh.

    Also, placing Maxwell’s blurb after mine is cruel/amazing, much love to Will for doing that.

  2. “this sounds like (so-and-so from long-ago year). if i wanted to hear that, i’d just listen to (so-and-so from long-ago year)” is such a dumb, lazy criticism

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