Fleet Foxes - "Mykonos" (2008)
Off of their second EP, which was recorded after their first album but released before it.
Who is the song about? Possibly lead singer and songwriter Robin Pecknold's brother, but no one is saying. Why is the song titled Mykonos, a Greek Island in the South Agean, halfway between Turkey and Greece? The song does mention the island in the chorus for the first half of the song, but the island is not known for 'snow tipped pines'. It does have quite a lot of coast line, being an island, but I don't know if it can be considered a 'gentle coast' being composed almost entirely of granite.As for the 'ancient gate' mentioned, there is a famous church in the town of Chora on the island that is called Our Lady of the Side Gate, so we may have a match.
The song is two distinct portions with a quiet bridge in between them. The first section is broken up: Verse 1, Chorus, Verse 2, Chorus. The second section is broken up: Chorus 2, Verse 3, Chorus 2, Verse 4, Chorus 2 (repeat until fade). The first section is somewhat straight forward indie pop. A gentle acoustic guitar leads the instruments, and a bass isn't really heard until the first chorus. The drums are predominantly bass drum and tambourine with a few cymbal hits. The rhythm is basic 4/4 time with the accent on the 2 and 4. It begins to fade out around two minutes in and just as you think that this short little song is over it gets great. The bridge is nothing but multi part harmony. The second part of the song is faster, and louder than the first. The bass is more prominent, and you can hear a lot more tom from the drums.
Most of what makes this song great is the transcendent vocals that start at the bridge and continue to the end of the song. Comparisons are often drawn to Simon and Garfunkel or The Beach Boys, but I agree with those that say Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young are the closest antecedent. I saw them play live in 2009 and they were just as tight live as they are recorded. At various points, all five of the members are singing and those strong vocals take an indie/folk/pop group that rivals others based solely on beard quantity; and makes them a really special thing.