Helplessness Blues - Fleet Foxes
Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 39 out of 42
  2. Negative: 0 out of 42
  1. For all of the baggage that comes included with Helplessness Blues, it is still a relaxing, folk-y Fleet Foxes record.
  2. May 2, 2011
    80
    On Helplessness Blues, he's just as interested in the landscape of the human heart. Still, it's the music that stands out, and the band's acoustic folk/chamber pop combo makes every song sound like a grand tribute to back-to-the-land living.
  3. 90
    The words are as woodsy and quaint as ever. Pecknold seems to take his inspiration from classic British poetry, and rarely refers to objects, characters, or events that would place him in the 21st century, relying instead on imagery like old stone fountains, seeds, keys, sand, and the night sky.
  4. Jun 9, 2011
    67
    Where its predecessor corralled modern versions of The Canterbury Tales that the band's foxhunting moniker continues to evoke, Pecknold's Helplessness relies on a suitelike flow in the absence of greatest hits.
  5. May 2, 2011
    80
    Though born out of a fraught gestation period, this second LP is a thing of beauty.
  6. Fleet Foxes have become a band who will not stop pushing, who will challenge themselves to avoid stagnancy, who will work with both their instruments and their minds. Because of that, the audience is able to reap the fruit and feast on it together.
  7. Apr 29, 2011
    82
    Only in closer Grown Ocean, with crashing cymbals and trilling woodwinds, do you get a sense that Fleet Foxes are actively trying to impress you. Even then, though, you're impressed all the same.
  8. May 3, 2011
    70
    Fleet Foxes mostly seem content to plug away at the atmosphere established on their debut. The big question on "Helplessness Blues'' isn't where the songs will go, but how much distanced reverb will be featured on any given cut.
  9. Apr 29, 2011
    88
    In striving for more self-less version of self, Pecknold and his excellent band have made an album that embraces modesty.
  10. May 3, 2011
    70
    Wistful and plaintive, solemn yet blissful, these are songs from another time - if not another planet - and their mesmerising melodies have the powerful ability to transport you, temporally and spatially, into the band's anachronistic, peaceful, eternal summer.
  11. Apr 29, 2011
    80
    In between the soul-searching, Fleet Foxes cranks out some pretty great singalong songs. And that's what it's all about, isn't it?
  12. May 13, 2011
    70
    Robin Pecknold's well-chronicled bout with writer's block and three years later, Helplessness Blues has arrived, and the good news is that it unquestionably sounds like a Fleet Foxes record-which is to say: warm and exquisitely pretty.
  13. 90
    It's an album that makes you sad that it's not longer; sad that it can't just go on forever. This sentiment alone should indicate the caliber of album Fleet Foxes have created in Helplessness Blues.
  14. 90
    The album's diversity is certainly key and essential to its value but for some it might lie entirely in Pecknold's flawless voice.
  15. May 11, 2011
    70
    No doubt Helplessness Blues will win Pecknold further fame and success, whether he likes it or not.
  16. May 2, 2011
    80
    Fleet Foxes might have put a lot of worry into the making of Helplessness Blues, but thankfully it was worth it.
  17. May 2, 2011
    80
    From the vocal harmonies to the steel guitars, tympani, and winds, Fleet Foxes continue to give rich and varied textures to their consistently tight harmonic structures and memorable melodies.
  18. 67
    On Helplessness Blues, their second disc of intimate, obsessively crafted folk, the bearded Seattleites take a giant step forward in their quest to turn the clock backward.
  19. May 3, 2011
    93
    No matter who appreciates or appropriates this music, who likes it or where you discover it, it is a testament to its power more than its populism.
  20. 88
    In its best moments, "Helplessness Blues" sparkles like some sort of divine plan, but a plan that knows the value of mistakes, surprises and even regret.
  21. May 3, 2011
    100
    This album is destined to redraw the parameters, thanks to its sheer scale and detail, its recurring themes and imagery, and its creators' refusal to settle for less than they could achieve. [June 2011, p. 90]
  22. May 2, 2011
    90
    Helplessness Blues sees the band finally reach the top of Barringer Hill and set off in majestic flight over the sunshine blessed countryside.
  23. They peddle the same sort of fake-rustic rootsiness that seems to be colonising our era: all these flatpack off-the-peg dreams of Ruritania that iPad-stashing mid-lifes have taken up as a counterpoint to their rabid technophilia.
  24. May 2, 2011
    90
    It may be his own manifesto, but when the music is this striking, it makes you appreciate life more.
  25. May 20, 2011
    40
    His guttural howl on The Shrine/An Argument is the only moment when Helplessness Blues snaps out of its preciousness and hints that this genre can be more than a soundtrack to brunch.
  26. May 4, 2011
    90
    For now, Pecknold and his bandmates are important cogs in the indie-music scene - with a few more albums akin to Helplessness Blues under their belts, they may soon fit just as nicely into the canon of American folk music.
  27. May 2, 2011
    88
    Helplessness Blues' analytical and inquisitive nature never tips into self-indulgence.
  28. May 3, 2011
    80
    So if there's one thing Helplessness Blues confirms, it's that he and his band are innovative and dynamic, capable of making music that rises above the disposability of the digital age and lasts a good long while.
  29. May 16, 2011
    75
    It comes down to what you're expecting here. Do you earnestly yearn for another album full of beautifully arranged, meticulously pored over harmonic acoustic folk? Then this is probably your album of the year to beat.
  30. May 31, 2011
    80
    Both mysterious and inviting, Helplessness Blues retains and expands what made the debut so special. It's an open door to a private world. [Jun 2011, p.108]
  31. May 2, 2011
    80
    Too young to have experienced the era he holds so dear, Pecknold has found refuge and inspiration in the echoes.
  32. May 2, 2011
    90
    Helplessness Blues succeeds because Fleet Foxes find a way to consistently balance the added level of nuance with their natural inclinations toward epic songcraft.
  33. May 4, 2011
    90
    Musically, the hooks are softer, the arrangements more ambitious, and 1960s British psychedelic folk (Fairport Convention, Vashti Bunyan, Pentangle) a far more palpable influence than the Americana that fueled the band's 2008 debut.
  34. Apr 29, 2011
    100
    So it comes as no surprise that the harmonic progression does not cadence as the listener might expect; the ear wants one more chord, but Pecknold and his backup singers simply end. There's nothing more to say.
  35. May 4, 2011
    100
    Wide-eyed self-searching is this record's predominant mode, which Fleet Foxes do both lyrically and sonically, reveling in the process of discovery.
  36. May 2, 2011
    80
    The result is almost laughably beautiful.
  37. 100
    With Helplessness Blues, Fleet Foxes triumphantly deliver on the promise of their popular debut, the album that helped establish folk-rock once again as a formidable commercial force rather than just a fringe interest.
  38. Helpnessness Blues is, like its predecessor, archaic and pastoral to the last.
  39. 80
    Pecknold enthusiastically revealed how the album was a direct result of his indulgence in MP3 piracy, as he tracked back to discover Fairport Convention, Roy Harper, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and all the heroes of the Sixties folk boom.
  40. May 13, 2011
    60
    While Helplessness Blues is sparser and more restrained than its predecessor, it's also spotted by unexpected flourishes that are almost experimental by the band's traditionalist standard.
  41. May 19, 2011
    80
    Helplessness Blues is as passionately desolate as anything on Closer, the record which documented Ian Curtis' romantic guilt and existential confusion. [Jun 2011, p.74]
  42. May 2, 2011
    80
    Far from that folksy, laid-back image, Helplessness Blues confirms Fleet Foxes' place as one of the most exacting, creative, and straight-up best bands making music in 2011.
User Score
8.7

Universal acclaim- based on 162 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 56 out of 60
  2. Negative: 1 out of 60
  1. May 5, 2011
    10
    NME need to throw in the towel, a 7 for Britney Spears, but a 4 for Fleet Foxes? Was this written by some guy who someone keeps locked away in a basement somewhere? Perhaps they don't allow him sharp objects, so instead of pencils, he writes his reviews with his own fecal matter? Regardless, Helplessness Blues is an instant classic,it also translates really well live. There really isn't anything else that needs to be said, this album will go down in history. Full Review »
  2. May 3, 2011
    10
    NME have no idea about music. The bar was set very high with the release of the first album, and they have definately delivered. If anything I prefer this to the debut. Each track sounds perfected and I haven't heard harmonies like this since the Brian Wilson led era of The Beach Boys. Absolutely fantastic Full Review »
  3. May 3, 2011
    10
    I began listening to this album with extreme expectations, judging by how wonderfully crafted their debut album was when they released it back in 2008. Let me just start by saying that I was highly impressed by the Fleet Foxes' sophomore album "Helplessness Blues." Each song manages to stands on it's own, and also works together with the rest of the songs to construct what I consider one of the best albums I have heard this year so far. The vocal harmonies make a solid return on this album, and the band manages to retain their unique sound they so steadily held on the past few releases. I absolutely look forward to hearing more from Fleet Foxes in the future. Full Review »