Helplessness Blues

Artist: Fleet Foxes

Title: Helplessness Blues

Released: 2011

Label: Sub Pop

Genre: Folk/folk rock, indie, Americana

I stumbled across Fleet Foxes a few years ago while sniffing around the Sub Pop’s webpage.  An EP and one album later, and I’m hooked.  Fleet Foxes’ music is simple but in a glorious way.  They’ve stripped down indie rock and folk to its most basic elements, usually just vocals, acoustic guitar and a simple percussive beat.  Their vocal harmonies and layering are impressive and heavenly, something that has been a staple in their sound since the beginning.

Finally, after a long wait and their new radio single tempting me, I picked up their sophomore effort, “Helplessness Blues” on vinyl today.  As usual, their cover art is captivating, a wonderful glimpse of what was inside.

I popped the vinyl onto my player and jotted down my notes for this review.  Naturally, my turntable plays at a few RPMs out of whack, so the vocalist sounded like a girl, but we’ll overlook that… got to love technology.  Right off the bat, I’m surrounded by a building chorus and I realize, I’m at home.

At times, I’m reminded of Simon and Garfunkel, only about ten times as layered with vocal harmonies.  It amazes me that the tunes here sound archaic and yet somehow modern at the same time, like as if an old dog has learned newer tricks.  It helps that the band splits a few tracks into dyads, of sorts, where half way through the song, we suddenly change tempo, chords and lyrics entirely (namely tracks five, six, and ten).  It certainly kept me on my toes..

In summation, it’s fair to say that the Foxes have one-upped their previous album.  There’s enough golden material here to make one feel that they’re lying in a field of green grass, under a single tree on a warm, sunny afternoon as a cool breeze gently licks at your cheeks.  Flawless and wonderful.

5 out of 5.


About Nick H.

I'm a geek for music whether it be on vinyl, CD, 78 or whatever. My goal is to sniff out the greated music on Earth, specializing in the obscure. I make music myself as well, mostly ambient and sound collage (1 album out and a few remixes so far). I work full time as a professional mascot (it pays the pills) but will soon retire, i hope.
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