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Fleet Foxes

"Helplessness Blues"

[Sub Pop; 2011]

By ; February 17, 2011 
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Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Robin Pecknold is a dirty liar. Either that or he has his fans pegged as impatient and/or stupid. Doesn’t he realize that after such a colossally successful debut as Fleet Foxes was in 2008, he has earned our trust? When given the chance to describe his new album, Pecknold said that fans might find it “pretty boring,” but if “Helplessness Blues” is any indication, it will be anything but. Taking inspiration from Roy Harper’s Stormcock, (hey isn’t that the brilliant album that last inspired the even more brilliant Ys by Joanna Newsom?), Fleet Foxes have reportedly sacrificed traditional song structures for more extended jams and a wider scope.

“Helplessness Blues,” our first taste of what is sure to be an excellent sophomore release, showcases all of the rapid acoustic strumming, tight harmonies, diverse instrumentation, and sincere-as-a-pathological-do-gooder-might-sound lead vocals that made Fleet Foxes’ 2008 self-titled album such a treat. Around the three minute mark we see our first traces of the new sound that Pecknold had described. The tempo dips and bursts into a rhythmic division somewhere around cut time. We hear an electric guitar and the whole band joins in to support their front-man.

The passage that follows is warm as all hell with a dense texture and a plenitude of the sweetest cadences heard since… well… Fleet Foxes’ last album. The lyrics remain strictly in the unique time frame achieved by their debut, (not quite in the present… but not really in the past either), and Pecknold leaves us with the teaser, “Some day I’ll be like the man on the screen.” Perhaps this new-found sense of scope points towards a cinematic quality that Fleet Foxes are looking to aspire to? In any case, “Helplessness Blues” hits all of the sweet spots that the best Fleet Foxes songs have throughout their still young career. Mark down the date May 3rd on your calendars as this is a follow up you should be excited for.

[Off of Helplessness Blues, due out May 3rd]


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