Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

The rule book of music is obviously not a precise art. The album is even now largely overlooked and still, bands like Fleet Foxes continue to deliver music built around some of its most basic fundamentals: great vibes with great people with great minds. It’s very well known just how huge the band has gotten since their first, much heralded, album but with Helplessness Blues, they’ve entirely taken their soaring music to another level. An album that is as easily welcome as it is welcoming; it’s a vastly dynamic album that demonstrates Fleet Foxes hitting on all cylinders.

In many ways, it’s still amazing realizing that there are still bands making albums with songs that can carry an identity of their own. The album’s songs are so vivid and rich that you’re left feeling a connection to each one and nevertheless they act as parts to one massively gorgeous whole. On “Battery Kinzie,” the band infiltrates a relishing idea built on the justice of a stomping drum and chugging guitar before tending to a swirling mix of choral vocals and scaling strings on “Lorelai.” By the time you get to the album’s closing songs, you’re left with a calming reassurance of the album’s stunning facets: it’s richly inviting, remarkably crafted and distinguished delivered.

Robin Pecknold would joke that touring due to their first album’s overwhelming success caused the delay of Helplessness Blues but perhaps it provided an opportunity for the band to flesh out and truly showcase their skill. The album’s diversity is certainly key and essential to its value but for some it might lie entirely in Pecknold’s flawless voice. Sometimes sounding like a Jeff Tweedy that’s bringing in the sun on “Blue Spotted Tail” and other times, an accumulation of spectral touches and singular swells make the vocals always dissimilar and thrilling. This suitably allows the band to place Pecknold’s shining voice in the limelight while they present a newly layered, newly matured style of sound.

Back when their self-titled album did explode, it created an emerging source of fans that loved Fleet Foxes’ folk roots. Though the band has always challenged that categorically tight square, that aforementioned album was a flourishing arrangement of various folk compositions that always relied on superb songwriting. While the latter is definitely a focal point on Helplessness Blues‘ beauty, the band’s ability is portrayed in deep resonance with a matured sound. The drums are far more nuanced than before with the toms not needing to be such a presence and the infliction of horns and strings is stellar. As on “Bedouin Dress” and the second part of “The Shrine/An Argument,” there is tremendous diversity to go around. Fortunately, these types of new ventures always sound meaningful under the band’s undeniable chemistry.

Instead of heading back into the studio, the tours and successful outlets appropriately maintained and introduced the band as something potentially great. Many writers in 2008 were noticing that Fleet Foxes definitely had a lot working for them and now, in 2011 everything is turning up rainbows. The title track represents the album’s rich sounds of life and brilliance; it’s fittingly ironic because of its exceptional musicianship and ultimately, the band is merely providing one of many colors to a rich and very much still growing, palette.

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