- Helplessness Blues is the anticipated follow-up to Fleet Foxes' 2008 debut. Recorded and co-produced by fellow Seattleite Phil Ek, it finds the band continuing to take their music in unusual directions, creating a baroque folk-pop sound that hints at a number of influences, but is too unique to warrant any direct links between the Seattle boys and their predecessors. It's a downright gorgeous record, filled to the brim with glee club harmonies and the sort of stringed instruments that are virtually unknown to anyone who didn't go to music school. Relying on obscure instrumentation can be a dangerous game, but Helplessness Blues has the necessary songs to back it up, from the slow crescendos of the album-opening "Montezuma" to the sweeping orchestral arrangement of the encore number, "Grown Ocean."
Rolling Stone (p.66) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "With its gleaming acoustic guitars, acid-folk brush strokes and warming choral harmonies, HELPLESSNESS BLUES is vocalist-songwriter Robin Pecknold's dazzling evocation of early-Seventies rock Eden..."
Rolling Stone (p.68) - Ranked #4 in Rolling Stone's '50 Best Albums Of 2011' -- "A monument to folk-rock beauty..."
Spin (p.68) - "Musically, the hooks are softer, the arrangements more ambitious, and 1960s British psychedelic folk a far more palpable influence than the Americana that fueled the band's 2008 debut."
Spin (p.23) - Ranked #33 in Spin's 'The Top 40 Albums Of 2011' -- "[A] sinewy, often stormy album of '70s-centric folk rock that sparkles even when cast in shadows."
Entertainment Weekly (p.74) - "On their second disc of intimate, obsessively crafted folk, the bearded Seattleites take a giant step forward in their quest to turn the clock backward."
Entertainment Weekly (p.99) - Ranked #2 in Entertainment Weekly's 'The Top 10 Albums Of 2011' -- "Blessed with epic harmonies, these Seattleites recall folk legends from the golden age of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young."
CMJ - "In between the soul-searching, Fleet Foxes cranks out some pretty great singalong songs."
Down Beat (p.54) - 4.5 stars out of 5 -- "Bandleader Robin Pecknold displays welcome growth as a songsmith, writing more personally and, at the same time, more universally than on the Foxes' self-titled debut."
Billboard (p.32) - "[I]t might be the year's airiest outing so far, with a natural melodic grace that recalls prime-era Simon & Garfunkel."
Clash (magazine) - "The dreamlike beginning of 'Montezuma', with its tender, subdued melody and singer Robin Pecknold's delicate vocals, is a gentle reintroduction into the world of Fleet Foxes and their ethereal, endless summer vibes."
Uncut (magazine) (p.34) - Ranked #12 in Uncut's '50 Best Albums Of 2011' -- "[W]ith a discreet expansion of the band's sound, and an increased focus -- beneath those gorgeous and dense harmonies..."