Saturday, June 4, 2011
Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
Make no mistake; the hype that you’ve been hearing about this record is fleeting.
This is a record that will outlive its hype, and all the pretention and petty name-calling will fall by the wayside, while future music fans will merely pick up Helplessness Blues based on its merits alone, seeking the same beauty they’ve heard from samples, other’s collections, and perhaps from reviews like this.
To be honest, I could care less if this review prompts you to check out the material. The Fleet Foxes' second album is so unassumingly wonderful that to scream its tactful brilliance would counteract what makes it so good. This is music you stroll into, and by cozying up to it in such a shy fashion, you begin to hear how perfectly the vocals and harmonies are. You hear how intricate the baroque arrangements and acoustic guitars are. There’s a few other instruments at times, and steady timbres of what sound like basic percussion instruments.
It all fits together perfectly.
Helplessness Blues will end up becoming one of those generational touchstones, an acoustic Nevermind for the kids who fight back with hollowbodys instead of Big Muffs. The same feelings, uncertainties and newfound realizations are happening, but leader Robin Peckhold isn’t screaming back with the years of family neglect and broken homes. In fact, he’s cool with the both of them, considering the years of coddling that both of them probably provided.
“I was raised up believin’/I was somehow unique,” he explains on the title track, “And now after some thinkin’/I’d say I’d rather be/A functioning cog in some great machinery/Serving something beyond me.”
Do you know how long it took me to realize that for myself? And I’m betting that I’ve got well over a decade on this dude!
“How could I dream of such a selfless and true love?/Could I wash my hands of just looking out for me?” Peckhold asks on “Montezuma.” He understands that-up until now-all of this, including the grandeur of the record he’s just created, means very little when you stack it against the joy and hardship of starting a family, building a human relationship, and connecting with another person in a world that’s wired to do the exact opposite.
I think they call someone who’s young, but is able to handle such perspective an “old soul.” Peckhold certainly seems like a good candidate for that designation, but for me he’s demonstrated that-despite the defeated record title presented with Helplessness Blues, the kids are better than alright.