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Fleet Foxes – ‘Helplessness Blues’ Album Review

April 25, 2011

A few weeks ago, I realized that I had attained the pinnacle of new-music-related anticipation. Fleet Foxes had just leaked the second song from their upcoming album, and it (combined with the already leaked title track) helped to propel me into a state of absolutely obsessive anticipation. I cannot recall a time since The Shins’ Wincing the Night Away that I have looked forward to more than Helplessness Blues, and finally getting to listen to the record in it’s entirety was like thirty-seven Christmas’, ninety-two birthday parties, and a three million dollar inheritance rolled into one.

Part of the reason that I am so blown away by Fleet Foxes’ latest album is because of the pure awesomeness of their first LP. “Surely” I kept telling myself, “their second album will not be able to hold a candle to their first”. I knew that it just wasn’t logical that Robyn Pecknold and crew could create an album on the same level as their debut affair, and I reminded myself of this fact often, so that I wouldn’t be disappointed when it was finally released.

With all this being said, Helplessness Blues IS absolutely on par with their first album. Many will no doubt wonder, “Is it better?” This is a tough conclusion to come to, because I’ve listened to the Fleet Foxes self-titled hundreds upon hundreds of times; of course a new album will inspire excitement and praise. Is it as enjoyable as the first full-length? Without a doubt! Do many of my favorite Fleet Foxes songs now hail from Helplessness Blues? Yep. Will it prove to be as impacting as the first? We will just have to see.

Helplessness Blues is the sort of album that restores your faith in contemporary music. It proves that Fleet Foxes’ first album wasn’t just a fluke, and that beautiful songwriting can be just as consistent as it is awe-inspiring. It is a perfectly blended mix of pretty harmonies, thoughtful lyrics, and minimized percussion. It is the sort of album that you will not be able to get enough of, and this is coming from a guy who generally dislikes listening to an album more than a couple of times a week.

I could go on forever, but I’ll spare you; if the above paragraphs don’t convince you that Helplessness Blues is something special, I don’t know what will. No matter what sort of music tickles your fancy, you owe it to yourself to check out what will probably be the best album released this year. And for a limited time, you can stream Helplessness Blues in it’s entirety on NPR Music.

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