Albums Reviews and Streams

Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues

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.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Lopez