There aren’t many free things in this world I appreciate more than music. Of course, I would love a free $1,000,000,000, but I’m talking about reality here. Fortunately for me and this blog about music, Fleet Foxes decided to stream their new album via the NPR website a few days before the album’s release. I listened to the album and then went to amazon to pre-order it. That’s how it went down. A direct relationship between listening for free and then spending hard-earned cash on a physical version of the album. Could I have ripped the album off the “interwebs” for free? Perhaps. But the real point is that I spent the money; it’s good.
Bands have to progress from album to album. If they don’t they look stale. If they change too much, they lose us completely. What’s important is this balance. For example, Radiohead maintains this balance quite well (or at least they did until the King of Limbs (but in their defense, King of Limbs wasn’t terrible, it just was not GREAT)). Fleet Foxes certainly maintained this balance well with Helplessness Blues. I can sense the Fleet Foxes I knew well whilst capturing the abundance of freshness in the album.
The crescendos aren’t redundant like Mumford and Sons, and are instead subtle and tasteful. Their harmonies are as perfect as ever and Robin Pecknold’s voice continues to sooth. “Helplessness Blues” is my favorite track on the album. It has a beautiful transition from straight acoustic guitar strumming to full band melody in the middle of the song. I couldn’t help but think of “White Winter Hymnal” from their earlier LP, Fleet Foxes. I especially admired the lead guitar work thrown over the latter portion of the song. It is in very typical Fleet Foxes style. Surprising for Fleet Foxes is an atonal section of “The Shrine/An Argument”, but it actually works well.
I wish I could write just how fantastic this album is, but my words could never do it justice (nor could they for any album). My inadequacy as a music analyst also does the album an injustice. But, the important thing to get out of all of this is that I like Fleet Foxes’ Helplessness Blues. Go listen to it; it’s free to stream.