Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

by Dan Clay Rating:9 Release Date:2011-05-02

With the rise of folk surprising many in recent years, the success of 2008's Fleet Foxes pleasantly astounded critics and fans alike. With 'White Winter Hymnal', the signature song, Robin Pecknold's band of harmonious Seattle songsmiths led another quiet revolution similar to the early 00s Turin Brakes-led movement. Following up such a lush album was always going to prove difficult. If reports are to be believed, Helplessness Blues was agonised over in the quest for perfection which pretty much ruined a similar attempt with R.E.M.'s Around the Sun. Thankfully here, perfection is pretty much the order of the day.

Though they might be accused of delivering more of the same (although that never hurt Arctic Monkeys or Oasis on their second attempts) when it's this beautiful, who honestly cares? And even with 12 tracks to enjoy, some really stand out. '

' brings us a typical blues refrain: "I woke up one morning/ all my fingers rotten," before leading us down a more hopeful path than its melancholy beginnings might suggest.

Title track '

' and the split songs of 'The Plains/Bitter Dancer' and 'The Shrine/An Argument' and you have barely a duff moment, even when some squawking Iron and Wine-sounding sax threatens to disrupt the gentle order on the latter.

Some find might it a little twee at times, others might never have really enjoyed the original, but Helplessness Blues is not only the perfect soundtrack to a warm summer day, it's just a bloody beautiful record too.

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