CD Review: Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues


Grade: A-


You ever hear of the sophomore slump? No, you say? Let’s do an analogy. Freshman year you are fresh out of high school with still a pretty bangin’ body (hey, high school partying doesn’t really count) and since you are barely legal, everyone wants you. But then you drink too much beer too often, order a whole lot of pizza after 2 a.m., and think smoking weed on the couch with the cool stoners and not going to the gym makes you awesome. And it does, until you’ve gained 20 pounds and people start calling you “muffin top.” That’s when your sophomore year rolls around and it’s do or die time; you either fall into the pit of chubby despair and accept the fact that you will be chubby from here on out, or you pick up the pieces, get your shit together, and become a smokin’ hot almost-21-something by Halloween. Well…. Fleet Foxes always kept their figure, so a sophomore slump was never in the cards. How’s that for a twist ending?


Fleet Foxes had some pretty big shoes to fill after their successful self-titled debut album from 2008.  Their latest, Helplessness Blues,  won’t be too shocking to a long time fan or, let’s be real, a new listener. Fleet Foxes are so happily folksy and interesting enough for anyone who appreciates music but also easy and catchy for, say, someone over 50 to enjoy and bob their head to. They apparently tried to make this album “less poppy, less upbeat” which seems to be the case, but not quite in as depressing of a way as it could’ve turned out. Whether or not they are pleased with this is one thing, but it’s better this way in my book.


“Sim Sala Bim” is a personal favorite on the album; a bit on the slower and sadder side then some of the other tracks, their passionate lyrics make you realize that this album is about the blues; “What makes me love you despite the reservations?” But when you ask yourself that question (yet probably in a more black-out-drunk kind of way), is there any acceptable answer you can give yourself? Not really, which is why this song is so amazingly authentic and relatable. Their single “Helplessness Blues” is a near-perfect 5-minute tune that takes you through peaks and valleys of someone trying to figure out what they hell they want to do with themselves. Again with the brilliant lyrics, Robin Peckhold sings, “And I know, I know you keep me on the shelf / I’ll come back to you someday / Soon, myself.” before the song breaks down into the beautiful bridge of ambitious arrangements and pure acoustic gold.


Man, I’m so glad Fleet Foxes don’t suck. Perfectly timed and seemingly so down-to-earth, Fleet Foxes is a band with a the potential for becoming a band with eternal staying power. To be able to stay cool, grounded and talented thus far is an amazing feat in itself, and I just hope that they come back just as strong for their next album. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself… we all know how those chicks from A116 turned out. 


Sounds Like: Bunnies and deer wearing plaid in the woods.

Download: Helplessness Blues, Sim Sala Bim

Listen to it When: You’re bird-watching with your cool 85-year-old grandma.


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