Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues

Categories: Album Stream
Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues.jpeg
Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
​It's widely known that the sophomore release from Seattle-based folk/indie rockers Fleet Foxes -- Helplessness Blues -- leaked approximately a month ago. This news was actually met with a sigh of relief from Robin Pecknold and his bandmates as they had been working towards their new album since 2009 with Pecknold himself even stating he wanted the album to be released in the second half of 2010. Busy tour schedules and somewhat unique recording process have dictated that Helplessness Blues finally see the light of day on May 3.

For those who simply cannot wait until next Tuesday -- or aren't hip to the album's leak -- NPR Music has given Helplessness Blues its Exclusive First Listen treatment, streaming the album in its entirety via their website.

I am going to just come right out and say that I think Helplessness Blues is the best album of 2010. Sure, some new albums may come along and challenge the reign of Helplessness Blues, but that will be a most difficult task. The album is just too polished and so, so fun to listen to.

Take, for instance, the album's titular lead single, "Helplessness Blues." The song makes it nearly three minutes with solely Pecknold's vocals and an acoustic guitar -- that's it. Once the drums and other accompaniment join in, the song takes a trademark Fleet Foxes switchback, exposing an almost wholly separate song in its final two minutes. 

"Helplessness Blues" is not the only song to have its own unique duality. "The Plains / Bitter Dancer" and "The Shrine / An Argument" are more blatantly labelled as two songs in one, yet both make brilliant use of their unique duality -- especially "The Shrine / An Argument." The first half of the song begins as with a feeble, meandering acoustic guitar, soon joined by Robin Pecknold's thunderous, brazen vocals. The latter half of the song, then, morphs into a rather bizarre -- by the band's standards -- acid jazz take, complete with lyrics that drive home the apple motif that is so prevalent throughout the album: "Green apples hang from my green apple tree / They belong only to / Only to me."

Any and all description of the album that I can provide falls short of actually describing the feeling of listening to Helplessness Blues. Head on over to NPR Music and just listen for yourself.

Helplessness Blues is out 5/3 via Sub Pop. Fleet Foxes are scheduled to perform at Tucson's Rialto Theatre on 5/8. Yes, it's worth the trip.

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