Thursday, June 2, 2011

Album Review: "Helplessness Blues" - Fleet Foxes


Today I'm reviewing Fleet Foxes' second, and most recent album, Helplessness Blues, which was released May 3, 2011.  This album was anxiously waited by many people because Fleet Foxes hadn't made a new album since their debut back in mid 2008.  I first heard of Fleet Foxes a couple of years ago on Pandora radio.  I was instantly hooked and amazed.  I'd never heard a sound like theirs before and immediately bought their album off of Target's website.  I fell in love with Fleet Foxes and they easily became one of my favorite bands ever.  I too was very anxious for their new album and I preordered it off of Target's website.  Once I got it and listened to it a couple of times, I fell in love with it as I did with the first.

Helplessness Blues definitely has a different feel from Fleet Foxes.  Fleet Foxes' still retain their sound and style of music, but the two albums are very contrasting in my opinion.  It seems as if Fleet Foxes has a more mature sound.  They keep their familiar singing style, but they also use more instruments in this album than they did in their debut.  Robin sings in the first track, "Montezuma", "Oh man that I used to be.  Oh man, oh my, oh me."  It seems as if he's reflecting on his life.  He's now as old as his parents when they had their daughter and he's remembering what he used to be and possibly wondering if he's grown better.  This theme seems to appear in "Bedouin Dress", when he says, "The borrower's debt is the only regret of my youth." and "And believe me it's not easy when I look back.  Everything I took got soon returned."  He's looking back at his life and regretting all the things he took and borrowed.  The song also mentions "Innisfree",  which is a lake in Ireland and also a poem by W.B. Yeats.  The poem is about a very peaceful and natural place, sort of like a fond memory.  Maybe Robin wants to take back all the wrong things he did in his past and go back to a very fond memory from his past.  This theme is shown mainly in these two songs as a way to begin the album.  Some of my favorites off of this album are "Helplessness Blues", "Battery Kinzie", "Lorelei", and "The Shrine/An Argument".  I still love all the songs on this album, but these are just some standouts to me.  "Helplessness Blues" is the title track and was released as a single before the album was released.  This song seems to be about the singer turning away from a self-centered point of view, to a selfless point of view.  The singer realizes that he was told as a child about being unique, but he now realizes that he'd rather spend his time helping others than helping himself.  Musically, the song is amazing.  Robin's voice along with the guitar and the background vocals create an amazing and deep sound.  "Battery Kinzie" is another great song off of this album.  I really enjoy the piano and the vocal harmonies in this song.  It also has a very lively and energetic feel to it.  "Lorelei" is another beautiful song off of this album.  The gentle strum of the guitar, Robin's magical voice, and the occasional flute make this song incredible.  "The Shrine/An Argument" is again an amazing song of this album.  Robin puts so much emotion in this song, especially when he says, "Sunlight over me no matter what I do."  Then the song changes tempo and key about a third into the song.  This changes the whole feel of the song as well.  It is now more energetic and powerful than the beginning.  Then the song changes key and tempo again near the last part of the track.  It is very calm and sort of haunting because Robin's voice is pretty much by itself for the first part of the end.  Then Robin stops singing and the piano, guitar, and drums play a relaxing melody.  Next, this relaxing feel is interrupted by what sounds like squealing, out of tune saxophones.  I personally love this part because it's the first time Fleet Foxes have really had an experimental sound.

In conclusion, this album is fantastic.  I wish this review could give the album the justice it deserves, but I can't seem to put this album into the right words.  Simply put, Fleet Foxes' first album reminds me of winter.  It's very dark, yet peaceful.  Helplessness Blues is the exact opposite.  It represents spring/summer.  Fleet Foxes have matured greatly and their music reflects.  Please get this album.  I promise you won't regret.  It's undoubtedly one of my favorite albums ever.  Period.  Thanks for reading.

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