Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

You’ve heard the upbeat, Simon & Garfunkel-esque “Battery Kinzie.” Here’s another taste of Helplessness Blues, the duskier, still Garfunkel-ing hoedown “Bedouin Dress.”

Helplessness Blues is out 5/3 via Sub Pop/Bella Union.

Comments (19)
  1. is there a way to download this?

  2. There new album is going to be amazing.

  3. That end-of-verse verse guitar fill is so reminiscent of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhwjFRZ25pQ, but I love the unexpected resolution to the progression. It’s some solid musicality. It’s great to hear what they’ve done with much more traditional harmonic structures and chord progressions in the Helplessness Blues songs so far. It seems to be something a lot of bands want to do after their debut – prove that they can write a good song using just 3 chords, a la ‘Battery Kinzie’ or just that they can use familiar structures and harmonics in an original way. I also wonder whether it actually makes the music better? Because so far I’ve enjoyed these songs for their command of tradition, but I loved the original Fleet Foxes stuff for their innovation within a traditional aesthetic. I guess it’s just different ways of approaching songwriting and the burden of a ‘genre’ – a burden which is demonstrated by the constant Simon & Garfunkel comparisons.

    • Personally the goal was to be a little more reverent of certain folk influences, rather than perverting them by putting them in too much of a pop context, or making them sound slick, which is how I sort of feel about the first record now. As you said, it had a traditional “aesthetic,” but not much of the substance of that older stuff. And there’s a lot of stuff on the record that isn’t like these songs at all. The Simon & Garfunkel comparisons are interesting to me because the only bands I had in mind when making the record were the bands I DIDN’T want it to sound like (stuff we got compared to last time)! Never thought about what it DID. Heh. Thanks for checking it out!

      • It’s interesting that you see it as a perversion; I’ve always thought about is as a generational necessity to recontextualise – so, for example, you might say that Western literature has advanced a great deal since Greek Tragedy and The Bible in terms of its basic construction and concerns, but each generation retells its own version and new authors debut their novels every year. Sometimes it’s a conscious retelling and sometimes it isn’t; but it seems to me more interesting when it is. To use musical examples, the last Titus Andronicus record was very interested in acknowledging its precursors, and using them semi-reverently to make a point about both tradition and the present – so you get a line like “tramps like us, baby we were born to die!”, which is an evaluation of previous rock tropes and their relevance to the modern context of the song.

        The same could be said to be true of putting folk influences into a pop context. It’s a way of evaluating and repackaging those influences and their relevance to modern life. So you ended up with a (somewhat) traditional folk aesthetic with lyrics about missing connecting flights, but with aspects of the sound (especially, I always thought, the electric guitar and drum work) updated to a more modern rock or pop aesthetic. That’s how I listen to that record anyway, and I like that about it. I always think it has a great sense of balance.

        I know what you mean about substance though. I guess a lot of people look to folk as the music which has “something to SAY”, and expect some kind of truth with their tunes. Anyway, I’m really looking forward to the record.

      • Robin, This is the record we all need right now. I’m not talking about fleet foxes fans I’m talking about the collective human race. Maybe you just wanted to make a record, but this could be a game changer. It’s part of a movement hidden by the current chaos of the world. A movement fighting instant gratification, reviving substance in our lives, and the world of art. The last record was cool and I loved it, but from what I’ve heard from this one so far, it shows your spirit, it makes me feel human. It reaches back to a time when we weren’t so concerned with genre and style. Anthropologist say we created music to express ourselves and communicate with one another before we had language. I have never seen so many responses upon first listen, claiming a song made them cry & could be their favorite of all time, as I’ve seen with helplessness blues. I know how consuming art can be, I’m a filmmaker, blessed and cursed with passion and the need for perfection. I just wanted to say, that you have done it & I’m so happy you fought through tough times to get this right. I can now comfortably put you alongside the Tom Waits, Joanna Newsom’s & Joni Mitchell’s of this world. Very inspirational. You just might hear from me in the future if I’m able to pull off what I’m trying to do. You deserve all the accolades you will get for this record. Well done my friend.


  4. My favorite of the three. So good.

  5. Wonderful song. This album is going to be completely different, but still amazing.

  6. The new album is amazing!

  7. nice song

  8. Can’t wait for the album – though, at this rate, will have heard it all by May! Fleet Foxes ‘Helplessness Blues’.

  9. Purchased a Pitchfork ticket for Saturday ONLY to see Fleet Foxes, because their other Chicago date had sold out, should be totally worth it, judging by the initial vibes off of Hopelessness Blues.

    • Where’s the sold out date?
      I have tickets for Saturday only too just for Foxes but before that i was looking for a date and couldn’t find any?

  10. I can’t get this song out of my head. I’m also considering buying the Saturday Pitchfork ticket JUST to see them. So excited for this album

  11. Very excited for this album, where the first full-length seemed to capture the end of winter and beginning of spring, this album seems to be jumping headfirst into summer, and its a beautiful thing to hear

    If that sounded too sentimental, my apologies, I’m hoping to see you in washington because you guys decided not to play massey hall again. Ah well.

    Also, is the person named Robin Pecknold on the comments board really Robin? I’ll believe either one

  12. gorgeous–can’t wait for the new album!

  13. Can I have the Canterbury Tales tapes back now :)

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