May 27, 2011

Helplessness Blues-Fleet Foxes

An instant classic. From the very first time that I heard the beautiful strains of the title track some months ago it was pretty obvious that Fleet Foxes were definitely going to deliver the goods on their long anticipated second album. This is a harmonic masterpiece, a treasure trove of soaring moments and delectable melodies. No slump here.

Twelve tracks of gorgeous grace. A dozen deliriously good tunes. It is warm and inviting, blissfully unaware of its inherent greatness. "Montezuma" is a delightful entree, showcasing immediately the rustic ambiance of this Seattle sixtet. Led by the heavenly voice of Robin Pecknold, it is the first step on a sun kissed journey. Guitars trill, voices collide, hearts rest. "Bedouin Dress" and "Sim Sala Bim" keep the mood flowing with unbeatable melodies and deft touches. You could possible say that "Battery Kinzie" is a standout, but this album is so consistently great that there are zero dips of fortune. Only high peaks. It must be said though that although the melodies that abound here are joyous and sunlit, there is a certain pensive and even sombre tone to the album. I wouldn't call it dark, but it has a feeling of despair more seen then on the stupendous self titled debut. I would call it blissful despair. This is best illustrated on the sublime two song centre block. "The Plains/Bitter Dancer" builds ever so slowly with a deliberate and careful pace before blowing out the doors, whilst the title track sounds better with every listen. As Pecknold sings "I was raised up believing I was somehow unique. Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see. And now after some thinking, I'd say I'd rather be a functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me", you can hear his heart sighing. The transition in this song is breath taking too. A signature moment in 2011. There is plenty more to enjoy though, the delicate "Someone You'd Admire" or the robust and thrusting closer "Grown Ocean" are good places to explore. This is music that harks back to a distant era, but it feels now and ready. The musicianship is expert, the harmonies are divine and I know one thing. It will take something awfully excellent to better this in 2011.

MP3: Grown Ocean-Fleet Foxes

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