Music » Music Stories & Interviews

Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues



The second record is always a bitch (see: Interpol, Bloc Party, etc.). So as the scrapped sessions, shifting studio locations, and delayed release dates marked the follow-up to Seattle’s Fleet Foxes’ universally adored 2008 debut full-length, the writing certainly seemed to be on the wall. And yet, there is Helplessness Blues, a record so effortlessly tuneful and assured it makes you wonder how anyone could have doubted they could pull this off again. The bouncy, fiddle-led “Bedouin Dress,” the elaborate, beautifully layered “The Plains/Bitter Dancer,” and the irresistibly melodic title track all point to a band at peak power. And while the features that endeared the Foxes on their debut — soaring multi-part harmonies, quirky songwriting — are still fully intact here, they’ve managed to throw some new things into the pot. Most notable is “The Shrine/An Argument,” which morphs from standard folk to free-jazz freak out over eight minutes. Confident, consistent, and hugely enjoyable, Helplessness more than anything proves that the Foxes should have a lot more brilliant music left in them. So much for the sophomore slump.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the San Antonio Press Club for as little as $5 a month.