It’s hard to open up a music magazine these days and not hear some hype about Fleet Foxes. This Tuesday, their second album Helplessness Blues was released and it is one of the year’s best. If you are into chill Americana-folk music with beautiful harmonies, you should check out this record. The songwriting allows listeners to imagine what a Simon and Garfunkel record would have sounded like if Brian Wilson had arranged the harmonies with a little help from Crosby, Still and Nash. The opener “Montezuma” with its chorus of “Oh man! What I used to be. Oh man! Oh my! Oh me!” is a playful nod to the Pet Sounds/SMiLE-era Beach Boys while many of the other lyrics are reminiscent of Paul Simon with their melodic and rhythmic precision and thoughtful poetic imagery. “The Plains/Bitter Dancer” recalls The Beach Boys “Feel Flows” and the waltzy “Lorelai” feels like Dylan’s “4th Time Around” with it’s arpeggiated acoustic guitar. Overall, Fleet Foxes have learned from some of the best and are now adding some beautiful music to the canon.
Stand out tracks are the title track “Helplessness Blues,” “Montezuma,” and “Lorelai.” Helplessness Blues is a record for fans of Simon and Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, CSN and Mumford and Sons.