Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
NME.COM feature on Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues album including album review, artwork, tracks, listen now, tour dates, discography and more.
More soggy nonnying for the emotionally stunted
It was Conor Kiley of glam-metal reprobates Holy Ghost Revival who gave the world the term ‘fucking canoeing music’ to nail the flaccid faux-outdoorsy sonics of Fleet Foxes . Conor, babes: you wuz right. Fleet Foxes suck. They’re the soy-latte house band of Starbucks. They peddle the same sort of fake-rustic rootsiness that seems to be colonising our era: all these flatpack...
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Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues: Wikipedia Album Entry
Helplessness Blues is the second studio album by Seattle-based folk band Fleet Foxes (planned release 29 Apr 2011, Bella Union - leaked almost six weeks prior to the release), includes:
2. Bedouin Dress
3. Sim Sala Bim
4. Battery Kinzie
5. The Plains / Bitter Dancer
6. Helplessness Blues
7. The Cascades
9. Someone You'd Admire
10. The Shrine / An Argument
11. Blue Spotted Tail
12. Grown Ocean
Initially, Robin Pecknold had stated he would like the album to be released in 2009; however, the band's touring schedule had caused them some setbacks. They got together to rehearse new songs in February 2009 in a rented house outside Seattle, but the sessions were mostly scrapped. As a result of those wasted sessions, the band lost $60,000 of their own money. After their tour in support of the 2008 releases ended, the band's singer-songwriter mentioned the possibility of starting to record new songs, but Joshua Tillman, Fleet Foxes' drummer and co-song arranger, was scheduled to play Europe and North America all along the 2009-10 winter as part of his solo musical act. Added to this, Philip Ek, the band's producer and friend answered in an interview that he was likely to continue as the producer as Robin had already sent him some demos to start listening to. In an interview with Pitchfork, Pecknold stated he expected the album to be released sometime in the second half of 2010. The incredible care Pecknold put into the album was painstaking, creating turmoil in his personal relationships. In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Pecknold admitted that his girlfriend of five years found the stress this album placed on their relationship too much, and ended things. Upon hearing the completed album, she realized that Pecknold's efforts were worth it and they are working it out.
Pecknold has come out saying for their second album he tried to sound "less poppy, less upbeat and more groove-based". Taking inspiration from Roy Harper's psychedelic folk album Stormcock, or at least its 12-string guitar he said: "That will be the primary sonic distancing from the last record". Added to this, he stated they wanted to record very quickly, saying he wanted to do the "vocal takes in one go, so even if there are fuck-ups, I want them to be on there. I want there to be guitar mistakes. I want there to be not totally flawless vocals. I want to record it and have that kind of cohesive sound. Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, to me, is the best-sounding album because it sounds like there were only six hours in the universe for that album to be recorded in. So I want it to have that feeling."
The band had recorded since April 2010 in different locations (including West Hurley, New York) after two years of writing material and decided to scrap the earlier idea of a fast recording (though according to the band, the vocal takes as of yet have all been done in one take, perhaps in line with the original imperfect recording idea).
In a press release from the band on January 31st, 2011, it was revealed that former Blood Brothers and Past Lives multi-instrumentalist Morgan Henderson had been officially added to the Fleet Foxes lineup.
The album cover was illustrated by Seattle artist Toby Liebowitz and painted by artist Christopher Alderson. The title track, "Helplessness Blues" was released via free download on January 31st, 2011, and the album's fourth track, "Battery Kinzie" premiered on Zane Lowe's show on March 22nd, 2011. Their record label, Sub Pop, also released a downloadable music video made up of recording and other miscellaneous footage set to Fleet Foxes' song "Grown Ocean" on its site in support of the album. Additionally, the band released a 12" double A-side single of the title track backed with "Grown Ocean" for Record Store Day on April 16th, 2011.
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I was raised up believin'
I was somehow unique
like a snowflake, distinct among snowflakes
unique in each way you can see.
So now I am older
Than my mother and father
When they had their daughter
Now what does that say about me?
If to borrow is to take and not return
I have borrowed all my lonesome life
And I can't, no, I can't get through
The borrower's debt is the only regret of my youth
He was so kind
Such a gentleman tied to the ocean side
Lighting a match
On the suitcase's latch in the fading of night
I woke up one morning
All my fingers rotten
I woke up a dying man
Without a chance
Just as the sand made everything round
Just as the tar seeps up from the ground
Bitter dancer, ever turning
So was the day that you came to town
So guess I got old
I was like trash on the sidewalk
I guess I knew why
Often it's hard to just sweet talk
After all is said & done, I'd feel the same.
All that I hoped would change within me stayed
Like a huddled moonlit exile on the shore,
warmin' his hands a thousand years ago.
I went down among the dust and pollen
to the old stone fountain in the morning after dawn
underneath were all these pennies fallen from the hands of children
they were there and then were gone
Why in the night sky are the lights hung?
Why is the earth moving 'round the sun?
Floating in the vacuum with no purpose, not a one
Why in the night sky are the lights hung?
In that dream I'm as old as the mountains
Still is starlight reflected in fountains
Children grown on the edge of the ocean
Kept like jewelry, kept with devotion