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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Magnificent Second Album
This is such a fine and beautiful album. I could simply write 'utterly marvellous' or 'recommended' and leave it there, but that wouldn't exactly convey why this is worth parting with one's hard earned spondoolicks! Everything about this album smacks of integrity; there is no doubt that this is the soundtrack to a kind of post-neo-hippy-green-idyll ideology, with a dash...
Published on 5 May 2011 by Callum Doone

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult second album????
I preferred the first record and even though I love the fact that these guys, probably still in their 20s, write and record in this fashion but this record wore thin on me pretty quickly. If you are a fan I guess you should have it but probably already have....Eugene Brosnan
Published 14 months ago by Mr. Eugene Brosnan


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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Magnificent Second Album, 5 May 2011
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This review is from: Helplessness Blues (Audio CD)
This is such a fine and beautiful album. I could simply write 'utterly marvellous' or 'recommended' and leave it there, but that wouldn't exactly convey why this is worth parting with one's hard earned spondoolicks! Everything about this album smacks of integrity; there is no doubt that this is the soundtrack to a kind of post-neo-hippy-green-idyll ideology, with a dash of self aware spirituality on top. It could also be said that it is clearly a re-invention of the folk rock genre of the late 1960's with its overt referencing to CSN, Neil Young, Paul Simon, Brian Wilson and others.( On a minor note it is also interesting to hear the tape hiss at points in the recording and to appreciate that the packaging is without plastics ) But this is an excellent piece of work which is audibly full of care and compassion. It isn't afraid to wear its references boldly although this is clearly not folk-rock genre karaoke. Fleet Foxes are the real deal;wonderfully fresh-sounding, genuine artists. Robin Pecknold is, of course the driving force here and his lyrical work is very fine indeed. As ever, the harmony arrangements are superb with Casey Westcott taking some of the honours in that department.There are moments here, on Helplessness Blues, where the neck prickles, as if the marriage of words and music is connecting internally and there is a real sense that these are musicians who are in it for the music, for the truth of that,nothing more, producing an excellent listening experience. The album celebrates, cherishes, challenges and questions the experience of humanity and it is a completely humanistic piece of work. "Montezuma" is a well-considered opener. "Bedouin Dress" livens things up yet it still has the key Fleet Foxes touches of texture and mood within the arrangement. Is it only a matter of time before Crosby and Nash want to guest on a Fleet Foxes album? "Sim Sala Bim" could be a class track by CSN, mostly Crosbyesque and very fine indeed for it."Battery Kinzie" isn't so far from The La's in feel. It really doesn't take a stretch of imagination to hear Lee Mavers singing this.For me the album really goes up a notch from track five, "The Plains/Bitter Dancer" which breaks some new ground for the Foxes, like a cross between CSNY and Yann Tierssen. It possesses stunningly good harmonies possessing a sense of real human majesty; the kind of feeling evoked from big choral works."Helplessness Blues" is classic Everly Brothers/Simon and Garfunkel in style and tone to begin with, then it opens up into the classic Fleet Foxes vista of harmony. Fabulous stuff, this confirms that we are in the midst of a really top-notch recording. For me,"The Cascades" is simply the beautiful, modest heart of this album. It is truly magnificent. I won't labour the point and go through the remaining songs in detail. Suffice to say, they are great. "Lorelai" has strong shades of Brian Wilson in the harmony arrangement ` rather like the sound of "Holland" rather than "Smile" in parts. "Blue Spotted Tail" is clearly referenced from the work of Paul Simon and is great for it. This album has a fairly immediate modest appeal but it does not wane. It is a grower. Beautifully recorded. Up to now this is my album choice of 2011.Highly recommended.
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The album is in many ways superior to its predecessor., 2 May 2011
This review is from: Helplessness Blues (Audio CD)
The plaintive harmonies and get-back-to-the-country imagery of Fleet Foxes' well-received 2008 self-titled debut Fleet Foxes helped define a musical movement of 21st Century bands in search of lost, 19th Century ideals: Midlake, Blitzen Trapper, Bon Iver. Now the Seattle sextet returns with the far more ambitious "Helplessness Blues" (Sub Pop).

Though the melodies aren't quite as instantly memorable, the album is in many ways superior to its predecessor.
The band's multi-part harmonies function more as a piece of the wide-screen arrangements rather than the dominant feature.
The voice of Robin Pecknold is more out front and lyrically direct; against an intricate web of counterpoint melodies, he plays the troubled narrator wrestling with his place in the world.
Employing everything from woodwinds to Tibetan singing bowls, with finger-picked acoustic guitars sailing atop rumbling timpani, the band makes a wonderful sound: rich but not overstuffed, intricate but not labored, virtuosic without sounding like anyone's showing off. The songs don't stick to verse-chorus formula, they're more like mini-suites that turn and twist without drawing attention to their complexity.

If there's a shortcoming, it's that the band is almost too subtle for its own good; all that beauty and detail is rarely played for dramatic effect.
When Pecknold's pristine voice rises and finally cracks on "The Shrine/An Argument", followed by a free-jazz freak-out, it's the type of musical jolt the rest of the album lacks.

But such outbursts probably wouldn't make sense in fleshing out the album's central theme.
"Could I wash my hands of just looking out for me?" Pecknold sings on "Montezuma".
On the title song, he declares his desire to "be a functioning cog in some great machinery, serving something beyond me".

In striving for more self-less version of self, Pecknold and his excellent band have made an album that embraces modesty. Which is why it may take a few listens for its rarefied combination of beauty and anxiety to hit home.
In this case, another virtue that Pecknold extols -- patience - has its rewards. G. Kot

The Courage Of Others
For Emma Forever Ago
Destroyer of the Void
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38 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fleet Foxes - The flashbulb moment for American music in 2011, 22 April 2011
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Helplessness Blues (MP3 Download)
Something remarkable is going on here and its great to watch and listen. Two observations to start with, if as suggested in the music press that Fleet Foxes main man Robin Pecknold has poured his heart and soul into their second album "Helplessness blues" it has paid off and this not only equals their great debut but surpasses it. The second reflection is that New Musical Express has given this album a paltry two stars in a mean minded review full of tired cliches that in itself should encourage you to buy it. The reason is that "Helplessness blues" is a triumphant classic and while its stays firmly within the orbit of harmony heavy folk rock of "Ragged Wood" it marks a substantial and mature progression for this Seattle band. This is particularly pronounced in terms of Pecknold's songwriting skills which take off into the stratosphere and the band produce some of the greatest soaring harmony singing this side of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bookends" and the great debut by Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Start with the brilliant title track. This song is divided into two parts firstly a introspective set of lyrics by Pecknold leads to a vocal tour de force which at 2.58 then moves into a sublime Fleet Foxes harmony workout. It is easily one of the best songs released this year but is matched on the album but equally bold contributions. "Sim Sala Bim" is delightful haunting folk song which splits into two parts with the CSN influence especially pronounced in its forceful second part. The reflective opener "Montezuma" sees Pecknold in a pensive mood questioning, "So now I am older/Than my mother and father/, When they had their daughter/Now what does that say about me" over almost warm religious style harmonies. It contrasts with the joyous "Battery Kinzie" probably the song that could have sat most happily on their debut. The albums centerpieces are two episodic songs of which first up is "The Plains/Bitter Dancer" a six minute journey containing some of the albums best harmonies and the albums longest track "The Shrine/An argument" a sort of baroque "Paranoid Android' with a powerful vocal by Pecknold which takes us on a journey from folk to a wig out free jazz conclusion. It is stirring perfection and will take audiences by storm on the forthcoming UK tour.

Other highlights include "Lorelai" which owes a huge debt to one of Dylan's best but not always most heralded songs "4th Time Round" from "Blonde on Blonde". Then there is the intriguing instrumental "Cascades", the slightly jazzy "Bedouin Dress" and two of the most gorgeous songs Pecknold has penned. First the lush "Something to admire" and the truly sublime sparse acoustics of "Blue Spotted Tail" where we can forgive Pecknold's "hippy" affectations for the wonderful sweet yearning which underpins it. The whole thing is topped off with the cherry on the cake that is "Grown Ocean" which was the highlight of the set they performed on Jools Holland with Pecknold's voice cracking as the songs pace picked up and surged. It starts with him announcing "In that dream I'm as old as the mountains/Still is starlight reflected in fountains/Children grown on the edge of the ocean/Kept like jewellery kept with devotion". It builds to a massive acoustic crescendo with the band firing on all cylinders and concludes with a gentle verse.

It is a fitting ending to an album, which sees the band radically redefine as oppose to reinvent their sound, but by doing so build on the brilliance of their debut and actually "outpunch" it. This album is a flashbulb moment for music in 2011. It sets down an American benchmark for others to aspire towards, in the same way that PJ Harvey's "Let England Shake" has done this side of the Atlantic. God knows how the Fleet Foxes follow this album (although we thought that after "Ragged Wood" and the "Sun Giant EP") for as it stands "Helplessness Blues" is the sound of rock music redemption.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it!, 21 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Helplessness Blues (Audio CD)
It's Fleet Foxes, who would expect anything other than a purely beautiful, awesome album. They have a way with words, melody and music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Infinite Sadness..., 9 Sep 2013
By 
J.D. Chaplin (East Anglia, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Helplessness Blues (Audio CD)
An emptiness falls through,

Dropping heavy against the chill.

Snow flakes tumble as blown

Moments spiralling quietly,

Memories burning, ever brighter colours.

Times re-imagined, passing,

A sense of loss, what has gone.

The infinite sadness, whispered,

Inhabits the breeze.

The warm embrace of family endures,

Through fading embers,

Youthful passions trembling.

Before the ice that wastes.

Till now an empty stage stills,

Winter's chill succeeds to complete,

Retreating towards the silence,

Icy, the curtain falls.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lovely sounds, 20 July 2013
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This review is from: Helplessness Blues (Audio CD)
brilliant album not a bad track on it, nice laid back songs.would recommend this .brilliant vocals & goodband with well mixed sound.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love the harmonies, gret chill out music., 3 May 2013
By 
J. Bredin "JB" (ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Helplessness Blues (Audio CD)
Love the lyrics
Excellent harmonies
looking forward to buying more albums and would like to hear them live at a festival in Ireland
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A happy man, 12 Sep 2011
By 
K. Devine "Kev" (Middlewich, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Helplessness Blues (Audio CD)
My son and I share an appreciation of Brian Wilson, and he (my son) has been reccomending Fleet Foxes for some time. I bought this album, and I HAVE JUST BEEN BLOWN AWAY! I just cant get enough. Grown Ocean, Lorelai, Helplessness Blues. For me, it's all flawless. On a separate note, and although not on this album, the lead singer, Robin Peckfold does a great cover version of Crayon Angels, which in my opinion is better than the original. Can't wait for Fleet Foxes to come back to the UK so that I can see them live.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simply stunning., 26 Jun 2011
This review is from: Helplessness Blues (Audio CD)
helplessness blues is quite literally one of the finest albums i have listened to recently. every track flows into the next beautifully, making the album as a whole incredibly enjoyable to listen to.

the contrast between tracks, for example, 'blue spotted tail' and 'battery kinzie', also provided great dynamics to the album.

overall. just as good as their first album. and in some places even better.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Helplessness Blues CD, 24 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Helplessness Blues (Audio CD)
I only recently heard about Fleet Foxes after visiting relatives in Canada.I now play them pretty frequently and in particular this CD.I love it.
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Helplessness Blues
Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes (Audio CD - 2011)
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