Reviews in 200 Words

"Helplessness Blues" by Fleet Foxes

In Album, Uncategorized on May 16, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young performing at a Renaissance Fair, this shouldn’t work. Fleet Foxes shouldn’t be popular. They should be soundtracking bread sellers in a marketplace, or hounds hustling through the glen in chase of their quarry.

Yet is does work – better even than it did on their 2008 debut. To be sure, there’s nothing as immediately catchy here. In place of infectious hooks and enigmatic lyrics we instead get a cycle of songs so complex and dark and drop dead beautiful that it’s hard to believe sometimes that it’s the same band who caught us up three years ago.

This time around complexity dominates. We are swept from the prow of a ship to a sunset field. Fear is palpable. What’s awesome is also disturbing. Instrumental passages shepherd us from lyrically intense images of farms to orbiting planets to dying men on hospital beds. It all means something, but like children we find ourselves looking at the world in disbelief. How can it be? Joy and sorrow commingle here. We’re seeking, but there’s only uncertainty. We’re oscillating between anxious and content, pausing here and there to survey the scene. It’s a harrowing, magnificent scene indeed.

~ Jay Cullis

Click here to download this week’s official Beat Jab Podcast, featuring Fleet Foxes’ new album “Helplessness Blues.”


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