Album Review: Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes

After a stunning debut that topped nearly everyone’s ‘end of the year’ list, an encore was no easy task for the Fleet Foxes. I’m glad they took three years off to fully work “Helplessness Blues” out, because once again it’s a masterpiece. There always seems to be a lot of weight placed on bands evolving, growing, changing etc, but really if you just continue to produce quality songs, that’s all that seems to matter.

Fleet Foxes, seem to deal with a lot of contradictions in their music. They manage to simultaneously sound both quaint and grand, and they strike a perfect balance between powerful and ornate.  It’s music that takes you somewhere, possibly somewhere distant, possibly somewhere long ago. It’s hard to really put a finger on exactly where and when, but that ambiguity is part of the beauty of Fleet Foxes. Their second album is a warm one. The vocals in particular almost glow and radiate with sincerity. “Helplessness Blues” is an album you can genuinely feel.

“Montezuma”, the opening track is a solid encapsulation of the sound that we have become familiar with in a slow gentle format. “Bedouin Dress” is a pretty interesting track that has a sound and easiness to it that’s not that far from that of a Simon & Garfunkel track. Probably the most simplistic song on the album it feels like a lazy Sunday afternoon.

“Battery Kinzie” is an upbeat number with triumphant sounding drums. It’s also probably the ‘steadiest’ song on the album. It’s pretty unusual for a Fleet Foxes song to be as repetitive in construction as this one. But it works. The lead single “Helplessness Blues” is really Fleet Foxes at their best. It’s a quiet (almost acapella) to loud type song. The guitars as well as the vocals are invigorating. It’s really a great song for the spring, as it kind of captures that feeling of going outside and enjoying the weather for the first time after being trapped indoors for months.  Finally, “Lorelai” is a pretty and delicate track that sort of flutters back and forth gently. The type of thing that makes for really good day dreaming music. Really, the whole album could fit under that category.  Weather permitting, I highly recommend just taking your IPod outside, closing your eyes and fully taking in “Helplessness Blues”.

Helplessness Blues: 4.5 out of 5

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