Day 97 – #132. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues


Ironic that today’s album is called Helplessness Blues, just hours after a day that may end up ranking in the top 3 for “Worst 24 Period of My Entire Life.”

The fallout from getting robbed in Miami yesterday is one that may take weeks to fully reveal itself.

What I’m finding out is that recalling the moments immediately following the discovery of broken glass (and my missing bag) evokes a white hot flush, a combination of helplessness and outright anger that leaves me dazed, sometimes dizzy. While I have placed the blame for the incident squarely on myself, I know I probably shouldn’t. It’s a ridiculous way to learn a lesson, but maybe that lesson will prove invaluable.

It also makes writing posts difficult, although I’m finding I am able to focus a bit better, not distracted by the powerful outside influences of Twitter, Tumblr, etc.

Fleet Foxes’ second release is one that was three years in the making. And while it has its moments, the Sun Giant EP and self-titled debut are both hard acts to follow.

I find myself enjoying the record’s upbeat moments a lot more than anything else. Tracks like the upbeat jaunt “Battery Kenzie” shine in comparison to the more murky, trodding “The Plains/Bitter Dancer.”

It isn’t even so much that the album is “bad” – I would never say that. What I will say is that it is, in a lot of ways, unremarkable more than it is impressive.

Thankfully, songs like the towering “The Shrine/An Argument” make me want to eat the previous sentence (sriracha, please). Clocking in over 8 minutes long, the song is split into two portions: the first, a haunting, acoustic-driven and harmonious exploit reinforced later by drums; and the second, which kicks off split by horns reminiscent of Radiohead’s “National Anthem” (and recalling what I anticipate penguins sound like when they mate).

Maybe it’s the fact that all the band’s releases up to this point raised the bar too high with unrealistic expectations of perfection. It’s not a bad album at all, don’t get me wrong. It’s a capable follow-up. As a standalone, if a listener had never partaken of these expedient canines (which is also the name of my Fleet Foxes cover band), I’m certain they would be led to discover more of their discography.

But as an existing fan of the band, it’s nigh impossible to hold a candle to their self-titled. Definitely listenable from these bearded, flannel-clad mountain outfit – just not their finest.

From Helplessness Blues, here is the title track –

Standout tracks: “The Shrine/An Argument” and “Someone You Admire”
Weakest track: “Sim Sala Bim”

RIYL: Moose.



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