mp3: Inspirational Track Of The Day #4 – Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues


Hallelujah! was the word I said in my head when Robin Pecknold informed the world of all the details for the new Fleet Foxes record.’Helplessness Blues’ is the name of the eagerly awaited follow up to the Seattle harmoniser’s critically acclaimed self-titled-stonker. Supported by a whole batch of tour dates including a very delectable appearance at London’s Hammersmith Apollo at the end of May, the new album will be released on May 2nd in UK, and May 3rd in the US.

The first thing that strikes me about this latest offering is the immediate lyrical protrusion. A lot of words stand out purely from their natural inability to conform to Pecknold’s melody. Here we have a lot of disyllabic words in places where the natural flow of the melody immediately suggests monosyllabic. But I think this is a folk tendency Pecknold is genuinely branching further and further out into, because whilst initially it all seems a bit messy, when the harmonies finally hit (and we all knew they would hit hard) they are skillfully timed yet convincingly free, bringing a sense of cohesion to all the long descriptive words flying round. And to call a song “Helplessness Blues” when it isn’t technically a blues track, is an epic Bob Dylan and Neil Young trait.

Furthermore the song isn’t all about the harmonies! This sure ain’t no hymn! Understandably they are still pleasant, present and correct but more subtly so. Or perhaps I am just so used to them by now, seeing as every other band is whoring the concept silly since Fleet Foxes first introduced the unthinkable 5-part Baroque concept back in 2008. The impact and skill in which they write, deliver and perform is still undeniably original. It’s not very Beach Boysy anymore, they’ve left that behind.

They also seem to still be driving the structural transgressive thing, as the end ‘bridge’ does feel like or even appear to be a second song added to the first by way of an electric guitar break.

You can hear Pecknold’s passion for the really old traditional folk and blues stuff shine through, as listed sometime back now in a short Myspace (WHAT’S THAT!?) blog post. In particular John Jacob Niles – Look Down That Lonesome Road and of course the folk standard Silver Dagger, which “Helplessness Blues” probably resembles the most.

In conclusion, after hearing this song only a few times I am more excited about May 2nd then I ever thought I would be.

04-30 Vancouver, British Columbia – The Vogue Theatre
05-01 Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
05-03 Seattle, WA – Moore Theatre
05-05 Oakland, CA – Fox Theater
05-06 San Diego, CA – Spreckels Theatre
05-07 Hollywood, CA – Hollywood Palladium
05-08 Tucson, AZ – Rialto Theatre
05-10 Austin, TX – Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheater
05-11 Dallas, TX – Palladium Ballroom
05-13 Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium
05-14 Atlanta, GA – The Tabernacle
05-15 Washington, DC – DAR Constitution Hall
05-17 Boston, MA – Orpheum Theatre
05-18 New York, NY – The United Palace Theatre
05-21 Upper Darby, PA – Tower Theatre
05-25 Berlin, Germany – Astra
05-26 Munich, Germany – Dachau Summer of Music
05-28 Barcelona, Spain – Primavera Sound
05-30 Paris, France – Bataclan
05-31 London, England – Hammersmith Apollo

You can download a free mp3 of the title track from the new album HERE.

A brilliant 14-minute tour documentary by Robin’s brother Sean, filmed as Pecknold opened for Joanna Newsom, can also be watched here. Where covers of the aforementioned ‘Lonesome Road’ and ‘Silver Dagger’ are played.

-James Godwin, February 1st, 2011

Copyright © 2011. James Godwin. All rights reserved.