Lee’s Listening Stack – Fleet Foxes – ‘Helplessness Blues’
Time and again, pop music has proven that there is such thing as an overnight sensation. Certainly Fleet Foxes affirmed that notion with the instant acclaim accorded their self –title debut. An album that encouraged other bands with similar sensibilities – Dawes, Blitzen Trapper, Middle Brother, Midlake and Mumford & Sons, among them – it suggested that Fleet Foxes would be the band that might bring the so-called nu-folk scene full circle. Look to Helplessness Blues to elevate that already stellar reputation by further rekindling the comparisons to the Laurel Canyon crowd. Indeed, Fleet Foxes re-imagine those homespun trappings by using utilizing guitar strums, fiddles, mandolin and dulcimer to add authenticity, even as moogs and mellotrons alter the ambiance.
Numerous references come immediately to mind, particularly Crosby Stills and Nash, thanks to the swelling harmonies and the brow-furling sentiment. One need look no further than “Sim Sala Bim, “ given the way the quiet acoustic guitars blossom into a furious send-off that echoes the frenzied farewell of “Suite Judy Blue Eyes.” The influences don’t end there either; hints of Fleetwood Mac, Fairport Convention, and the Beach Boys are etched in their template. Likewise, the cascading choruses that soar through the songs “Montezuma,” “Bedouin Dress” and “Blue Spotted Tail” can’t help but leave a more majestic impression. It’s a mesmerizing allure that makes Helplessness Blues sound so dramatic and distinct. Flush with reverence and circumspect, it etches an aura all its own. – Lee Zimmerman
Lee Zimmerman is a contributor to a variety of publications, including Blurt, M Music & Musicians, New Times, Goldmine and Amplifier
This review appears courtesy of Amplifier, 50,000 Watts of Non-Stop Indie Rock http://amplifiermagazine.blogspot.com/