On their second studio album, Fleet Foxes do not seem in any rush to get through the music. Expanding upon their lackadaisical instrumentation and smart lyrics that made them a MySpace sensation, back when MySpace had sensations, Helplessness Blues doesn’t sound as depressing as the name would imply. Of course these guys aren’t a barrel of laughs either. Most songs are low amounts of fuel burning on an idle engine, but it works.
The title track, the very definition of a slow burn, evokes a kind of gospel-like arrangement in its opening lyrics. The tune was first given away online for free, fitting for a band who has referenced illegal file sharing as one of the pluses of their career. A few highlights on the album include opening track “Montezuma,” whose refrain “oh, man what I used to be,” rings only slightly false, as the listener is anticipating more what this band is to become than what is has been.
“Bedouin Dress,” which sports a fiddle mid-tune, is a catchy song, only slightly outdone a few tracks later by “Battery Kinzie.” The brief instrumentation of “The Cascades” plays like an old western a little more the halfway through, while closing tune “Grown Ocean” creates a virtual ocean of sound, trumpeting through to the end.
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