Fans eagerly awaiting a follow-up to Fleet Foxes’ stellar 2011 record, Helplessness Blues, may feel as if the half-decade of studio silence passed slowly. But frontman Robin Pecknold doesn’t hold the same sentiment. “It felt like those six years flew right by,” he explains a week prior to the band’s two BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! benefit shows. The tour touches down in support of Crack-Up, Fleet Foxes’ long-awaited third album, released in June.
Between records, the (now) five-piece went through its fair share of changes. Josh Tillman (a.k.a. Father John Misty) left the band to pursue his solo endeavors, and Pecknold shifted his career: He traveled the world and went back to school at Columbia University. The singer-songwriter transformed into a student, focusing on having a regular routine instead of the vagabond tour lifestyle he had been immersed in since his teens. “I was isolated [during my time at Columbia], but I did it on purpose,” says Pecknold. Simply put, he needed a change.
But once the group entered the studio, the album came together quickly. “We began making the record in July  and finished in January,” he says. When Helplessness Blues was released, the record spurred the indie-folk wave, which also included acts like Bon Iver and First Aid Kit. Today, Fleet Foxes still remain stalwarts of the genre but have found a more cohesive sound thanks to their time apart. Fusing pastoral, slowly building ballads like “If You Need to, Keep Time on Me” with jauntier tunes like “Fool’s Errand,” the new album reveals a sharpened ear for subtle, narrative movement and diverse song composition.
When it came to picking a name for the record, the band cribbed the title of an F. Scott Fitzgerald essay that talks about resisting existential collapse after a fast ascent to success. It’s something they can relate to. Following a period in which Pecknold left the limelight and the rest of the members reassessed their futures, the album title evokes the band’s quasi-dissolution and its subsequent rise from the ashes.
“I was 24 and insecure when Helplessness Blues came out,” explains Pecknold. Now? Fleet Foxes have found their footing.