Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (2011)

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I'm incredibly grateful I waited to listen to the new Fleet Foxes. After two years of waiting and teasers in the form of slow releases of tracks "Helplessness Blues", "Battery Kinzie", "Grown Ocean", and finally "Bedouin Dress", actually getting to listen to the album in full was like getting what you really wanted but never told anyone for Christmas.

Helplessness Blues' strength is its simplicity. Sure, there's six men eagerly at work but it never really seems that way. Rather, each member inputs only what is truly necessary in a way that's more ear-catching than if they were to cluster all their talents together. Fleet Foxes' trademark vocal harmonies are featured widely throughout but really, what's more noteworthy is the band's ability to craft absolutely breathtaking musical moments with ease; creating vibrant melodies that serve as the perfect vehicle for Robin Pecknold's poetic exploration of the mundane. It's high caliber songwriting that manages to avoid holier-than-thou pretension through purely earnest effort.

Helplessness Blues is a mixed labor of love and Pecknold's obsessive perfectionism. Labor that's well worth all the months and months of stress. Even when it's clattering around loudly, it's music that refuses to draw attention to itself. Rather, stand solely based on its own merits and the hard work of the musicians crafting it. If it takes another two years to get something even half as good as Helplessness Blues on their next venture, I'd gladly wait.

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