Helplessness Blues

  • Record Label: Sub Pop
  • Release Date: May 3, 2011
User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 200 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 3 out of 200
Buy On

Review this album

  1. Your Score
    0 out of 10
    Rate this:
    • 10
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 6
    • 5
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 1
    • 0
    • 0
  1. Submit
  2. Check Spelling
  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'tNME 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. Expand
  2. Jul 19, 2011
    8
    I can't help but feel that this bands sentiments are all a little hollow. It's really pretty, catchy music but it has to lose some artistic merit points on some of the gag worthy lyrics. I'll take the new Bon Iver or Antlers over this one.
  3. May 24, 2011
    10
    Fleet Foxes are, and have always been amazing, this album is no exception. Understated, super honest, gorgeous woodsy folk from the heart. This album is a bit more subdued and humble than the previous, but no less outstanding for it.
  4. May 4, 2011
    9
    I was worried that this album would be too much of a departure from the first(which is one of my all-time favorites). I'm pleased to say the album is different from the first, but keeps the tone-rich sound that the first one had. The arrangements on this one are just a little more full than the first which makes it one that you have to listen to more than once. Bottom line is it'sI was worried that this album would be too much of a departure from the first(which is one of my all-time favorites). I'm pleased to say the album is different from the first, but keeps the tone-rich sound that the first one had. The arrangements on this one are just a little more full than the first which makes it one that you have to listen to more than once. Bottom line is it's almost as great as the first one.

    I have to say that NME's review is idiotic. I can understand if this music is not your cup of tea(not really mine either, but I think FF's are exceptional), but instead of critiqueing the entire genre of this type of music try judging THIS ALBUM for it's merits, and understand that others don't necessarily agree with your assessment of what is "boring" music. Some of us can stomach what you think is boring, so don't preach to us just review the album.
    Expand
  5. May 5, 2011
    9
    An absolutely beautiful piece of work. The only reviewers who give this album a lower rating are the mainstream magazines who are more than likely driven with the interest of profit rather than creativity. If you enjoy music that is created and spoken from the heart, then purchase this album.
  6. Jun 30, 2011
    10
    Going into this one was peculiar - though I was one of the few people I know who didn't obsess over their debut, I still had great expectations. I think one of the reasons I adore Helplessness Blues is that it's precisely what I wanted to hear the Fleet Foxes do throughout listening to their debut. There's an undeniable knack for songwriting, and I would argue their melodic sensibilitiesGoing into this one was peculiar - though I was one of the few people I know who didn't obsess over their debut, I still had great expectations. I think one of the reasons I adore Helplessness Blues is that it's precisely what I wanted to hear the Fleet Foxes do throughout listening to their debut. There's an undeniable knack for songwriting, and I would argue their melodic sensibilities trump those of harmony. Highlights include the thrilling yet understated title track, the entirety of "The Shrine / An Argument" (especially the surprise growl - grrrreat!), and the big-picture production of the album. Few records possess the range of emotions and grooves present in each track and put them together to make as much sense as it does on Helplessness Blues.

    Fleet Foxes, I knew you would come through for me.
    Expand
  7. Jul 22, 2011
    8
    I found Helplessness Blues to be a lot more human, accessible, and mature than their first album. The title track alone contains more emotion, passion, and insight into the human condition than the entire first album did. It's great to hear these guys broaden their sound and scale back most of the cuteness and droning, unrelatable renaissance fair balladry about mountains and RobinI found Helplessness Blues to be a lot more human, accessible, and mature than their first album. The title track alone contains more emotion, passion, and insight into the human condition than the entire first album did. It's great to hear these guys broaden their sound and scale back most of the cuteness and droning, unrelatable renaissance fair balladry about mountains and Robin Pecknold's brothers that marred the first album. The first three tracks still veer a little too close to that territory for my tastes (especially Bedouin Dress), but as soon as the pounding drums of Battery Kinzie kicks in, so does the album. Grown Ocean, Lorelai, and the title track are all terrific examples of Fleet Foxes breaking out of their bland, gentle shell and realizing their potential as indie folk extraordinaires. Expand
  8. 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
  9. 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 oneI 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. Expand
  10. May 3, 2011
    10
    From the Cover Art to the title "Sim Sala Bim", The Fleet Foxes do not disappoint with Helplessness Blues. Continually seducing the ears track after track to hold on one more note while the song blends perfectly with the next. The album is a perfect sequel to their debut. Not disappointed in the slightest.
  11. May 4, 2011
    5
    I agree with NME ... "They lull you in with their flawlessly polished music and hey-nonny-nonny you into a hypnagogic state, with the aim of making the world safe for the bland, the dull and the wi-fi enabled" (thanks Gavin Haynes) Plus, didn't Pecknold want a very organic feel ... to the likeness of Van Morrison's masterpiece Astral Weeks? Ahh..I don't feel it. The maturity of Pecknold'sI agree with NME ... "They lull you in with their flawlessly polished music and hey-nonny-nonny you into a hypnagogic state, with the aim of making the world safe for the bland, the dull and the wi-fi enabled" (thanks Gavin Haynes) Plus, didn't Pecknold want a very organic feel ... to the likeness of Van Morrison's masterpiece Astral Weeks? Ahh..I don't feel it. The maturity of Pecknold's lyrical content is clear and his voice is as magnificent as on the self-titled album. Yeah, I guess the album is just, simply, boring. I guess if spring ever arrives maybe the album will start to grow on me. Expand
  12. Dec 14, 2011
    2
    oh dear it would help if they wrote actual songs here but instead we' re are mistreated to song treatments, fragments if you will instead of the actual thing, all done in the inimitable style of CSN. hey deja vu all over again, it was bad the first time around, it's not getting any better this time.
  13. May 3, 2011
    9
    Fleet Foxes self-titled debut was a perfectly structured, articulated folk record that instantly pulled you into it. An amazing record. Helplessness Blues is no Fleet Foxes (album), but it is a very great attempt. It almost surpasses there debut. The sound is a lot broader in this album. Robin Pecknold's vocals haven't necessarily matured, but they still sound as wonderful as ever. All InFleet Foxes self-titled debut was a perfectly structured, articulated folk record that instantly pulled you into it. An amazing record. Helplessness Blues is no Fleet Foxes (album), but it is a very great attempt. It almost surpasses there debut. The sound is a lot broader in this album. Robin Pecknold's vocals haven't necessarily matured, but they still sound as wonderful as ever. All In All, Helplessness Blues is a wonderful album that's almost as great as there debut. A- Expand
  14. May 5, 2011
    8
    A full review:
    http://ludditestereo.net/2011/05/03/helplessness-blues-fleet-foxes-album-review/

    â
  15. May 29, 2011
    10
    Another great album by Fleet Foxes who play engaging, blissful tunes. A tough follow up to the debut but worth the wait. Check out band called Cloud Control (Bliss Release) if like FF.
  16. Sep 11, 2011
    5
    There are a couple of great songs here, but for the most part this album feels bland, unexciting and disingenuous in comparison to their debut. They may have extended their musical vocabulary slightly, but all it seems to have done is result in aimless instrumental portions.
  17. May 12, 2011
    9
    I was hoping for something more up-tempo in the follow up to their debut but instead, Robin Pecknold grows in his own direction, the direction the music is taking him, I think. It has so many instances of beauty and I think I shall be discovering things I like about this album (and this band) many years from now. Comparisons to Van Morrison are probably apt.
  18. May 15, 2011
    9
    I liked the last Fleet Foxes album, but I thought it was a bit too "sweet-melodious" for me. That's why I don't listen to the Beach Boys or whoever sounds like that. But this new album, "Helplessness Blues", well, let me just say that the Fleet Foxes sound good "helpless" and "blue"! This album gets its hands a little dirty, a little more grit -- not all singy-songy. It took me awhileI liked the last Fleet Foxes album, but I thought it was a bit too "sweet-melodious" for me. That's why I don't listen to the Beach Boys or whoever sounds like that. But this new album, "Helplessness Blues", well, let me just say that the Fleet Foxes sound good "helpless" and "blue"! This album gets its hands a little dirty, a little more grit -- not all singy-songy. It took me awhile to buy this album because I thought it would be like the last one. For me, all of the songs on the last album sounded too much the same. This album mixes things up a bit more and I like it that it has more lyrics. I rarely like ALL of any bands catalog of albums. I had been telling myself that the last album, although I knew it was good and critically acclaimed, was just not for me. ...That maybe the next one would be, and it is, and I am glad because I so much want to love this band. Great job, gentlemen!!! A classic!!! Expand
  19. Jul 1, 2011
    10
    This album is great. Every song is strong. Not as many epic songs as first album but overall I think this work is better than their debut which was also great. Well done. Definitely the best album of the year so far. I give this the #1 spot over TV On The Radio' s 9 types of light effort.
  20. Sep 6, 2011
    7
    Fleet Foxes' second album doesn't have the same impact as their debut, but still the songwriting is solid stuff and alike their debut, the album grows throughout and becomes better and better as you go along.
  21. Nov 9, 2011
    9
    Rating: (9.3)
    We have seen some good indie/folk records over the years, especially in the past five years or so. Bon Iver has released two very ambitious records, his sound changing dramatically from one to the next. The other very notable band that can be brought up in this discussion are the guys I am writing this review for, the Fleet Foxes. They released their self-titled debut to
    Rating: (9.3)
    We have seen some good indie/folk records over the years, especially in the past five years or so. Bon Iver has released two very ambitious records, his sound changing dramatically from one to the next. The other very notable band that can be brought up in this discussion are the guys I am writing this review for, the Fleet Foxes. They released their self-titled debut to universal acclaim, but on their second album, (this album), they did not go for a sound change like Bon Iver. Instead, they improved and added on what they had already created. 'Helplessness Blues' is much more ambitious, much more intricate, and much more atmospheric of an album than their self-titled debut. This album pulls off a neat trick of being able to sound like their old album, but still not give the impression of any less grand or spectacular. The layering of vocals and the crisp percussion makes you feel like you are in a giant space, with the boundaries only audible by sound. The acoustic guitar in the songs is very noticeable at the beginning of each new track, but you find it floating off in the background as the more complex aspects kick in. Each track has its own spectacular aspects as well, I do not even feel right singling out any specific song because I feel each one is so much stronger within the setting of the album. This album is something you have to put aside some time to listen to from front to end. Find a beautiful place to sit down and relax and listen to the band take you on a ride and fill your ears with beautiful lyrics. So to sum it up, this is nothing groundbreaking, and I have no doubt that those of you who think Bon Iver's self titled sophomore release will be the one that is the most influential are right. But this album is pure, other-worldly music, at its best.
    Expand
  22. Mar 10, 2012
    10
    Helplessness Blues steps up the soundscape for Fleet Foxes to a new level. The undeniable greatness of the vocal harmonies remain with new and different instrumental sounds making this album all its own. This is 2011's defining moment in music, one that deserves to be remembered forever.
  23. May 31, 2011
    10
    A surprising and rewarding album, both cheerful and haunting. There are so many memorable moments here. The band displays great versatility without seeming to stretch themselves. What I love best is that this album does more to challenge the listener more than their debut. They are not content to be just a "pretty sounding" band anymore (listen to the freakish "The Shrine / an Argument",A surprising and rewarding album, both cheerful and haunting. There are so many memorable moments here. The band displays great versatility without seeming to stretch themselves. What I love best is that this album does more to challenge the listener more than their debut. They are not content to be just a "pretty sounding" band anymore (listen to the freakish "The Shrine / an Argument", my favorite song from them). I'll be listening to this album thirty years from now. Collapse
  24. Dec 30, 2011
    9
    Fleet Foxes' harmonious music is a work of true craftsmanship. Helplessness Blues, like it's predecessor is an elegant and entrancing experience. It will leave you stunned and ultimately moved.
  25. May 8, 2011
    10
    The Fleet Foxes have not disappointed with this sophomore release. The harmonics are astounding as usual; the echoing lofty sounds of Robin Pecknold's voice blending perfectly with the rest of the band. The sounds are quiet, contemplative, and beautiful to listen to. I couldn't have hoped for any better after their first album, but they went ahead and delivered better anyway.
  26. May 6, 2011
    10
    It's pretty funny that the only bad review is from NME, who is showing their true biased colors after getting into words with fleet foxes after quote mining Robin and trying to make him sound like he said something he didn't. Of course he called the NME out on this on twitter and told them to remove the story. I guess they held that against them in their review.
  27. May 6, 2011
    10
    Gavin Haynes of NME is clearly not familiar with canoozing, a beloved summer pastime here in the Pacific Northwest. The former was the main point of my posting but in order to make it to 150 wordsâ
  28. May 7, 2011
    10
    A fantastic LP that could probably eclipse their debut release. Of course only time will tell, but currently on my 3rd listen I must say I have a stronger affection to this album than their first. Ultimately I found this a more rewarding listen. They've come a long way in terms of song writing and versatility. I honestly can't fault this album. Highlights for me include The Shrine/AnA fantastic LP that could probably eclipse their debut release. Of course only time will tell, but currently on my 3rd listen I must say I have a stronger affection to this album than their first. Ultimately I found this a more rewarding listen. They've come a long way in terms of song writing and versatility. I honestly can't fault this album. Highlights for me include The Shrine/An Arguement, Helplessness Blues, Grown Ocean & Montezuma. Expand
  29. May 7, 2011
    9
    Fleet Foxes was a new concept to me this year. I listened to their first album and this one together. Both are great. Even though it may not be as good as their debut album, it is still one of the better albums of 2011 that I have heard. The music of Fleet Foxes is very unique. Not many artists use a lot of instruments in their music (just a computer screen with lots of sound effects likeFleet Foxes was a new concept to me this year. I listened to their first album and this one together. Both are great. Even though it may not be as good as their debut album, it is still one of the better albums of 2011 that I have heard. The music of Fleet Foxes is very unique. Not many artists use a lot of instruments in their music (just a computer screen with lots of sound effects like pop songs). It is a beautiful album that I would recommend to those that enjoy folk/rock and indie rock (and maybe a little bit of experimental rock in there too). The songs that I would recommend are "Bedouin Dress", "The Plains/Bitter Dancer", "Helplessness Blues", and "The Shrine/An Argument". Expand
Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 39 out of 42
  2. Negative: 0 out of 42
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Q Magazine
    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]