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

Universal acclaim- based on 175 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 2 out of 175

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  1. Dec 16, 2011
    9
    A very solid follow up to their fantastic debut. Although it's predecessor had more catchy and instant tunes, this is a more expansive record and retains the folky style you'd associate with the band. It still has plenty of melodies and harmonies going on and is a highly enjoyable effort from the. Very interested to see what these guys do next.
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Oct 22, 2012
    9
    Sonically compelling all throughout and endlessly unique and interesting, "Helplessness Blues" solidifies the Fleet Foxes as one of the best folk/pop/rock hybrids the world has ever seen.
  6. Aug 9, 2011
    8
    I found this album is a little bit more difficult to listen to than their debut, which I personally think was 100% perfect. Still, i have to take a bow before these melodies and lyrics, particularly "The Shrine/An argument", which is absolutely haunting.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
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  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  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. Jun 3, 2011
    10
    extremely (and almost annoyingly) flawless and quite possibly better than their self-titled effort. Helplessness Blues is a masterpiece and one of the best albums of 2011.
  13. 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.
  14. Sep 2, 2011
    6
    I was letdown by this follow up effort and wished it was more of the harmonic melodies on prior release. I don't see this CD as a step in right direction and hope Fleet foxes gets back to their first 2 releases pattern of beautiful lyrics and arrangements.
  15. Dec 5, 2014
    9
    I listened to this album before their debut, which means I view this album a little differently then most people on here. I'll get to the point: This album is beautiful. Every small detail adds to it, and the amount of polish given to this album is wonderful. Fleet Foxes really have a handle on their atmospheres, and the slightly darker, introspective feel on this album really bringsI listened to this album before their debut, which means I view this album a little differently then most people on here. I'll get to the point: This album is beautiful. Every small detail adds to it, and the amount of polish given to this album is wonderful. Fleet Foxes really have a handle on their atmospheres, and the slightly darker, introspective feel on this album really brings it all together. Also, the different instruments that make little appearances are perfectly chosen and deepen this already deep, rich album. I'll just keep going on, but what most people say is right. You don't have to be a die hard fan to simply appreciate the craftsmanship presented. It's definitely worth a listen, and proves to be one of the best albums of the year. Expand
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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
  21. Jul 26, 2011
    7
    Better than the first. I heard simon and garfunkel are considering suing. Stand out tracks:Montezuma, The Plains / Bitter Dancer, Helplessness Blues.
  22. 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.
  23. Jun 29, 2011
    10
    This has to be the best album of 2011 so far. Introspective, yet universal. Deep, yet accessible. Beautiful music mixed with great vocals, and amazing lyrics. It took a while for me to warm up to it, but once I did I couldn't stop playing this album over and over again. This will go down as one of my favorites for life.
  24. Nov 17, 2013
    10
    There is no doubt in my mind that Helplessness Blues is one of the greatest albums that has been released in a long time. It goes to prove something extremely important: Good music isn't made through techno-wash and pop hooks, but instead through good songwriting and solid production. With little besides acoustic instruments and Robin Pecknold's solid gold voice, Fleet Foxes has provenThere is no doubt in my mind that Helplessness Blues is one of the greatest albums that has been released in a long time. It goes to prove something extremely important: Good music isn't made through techno-wash and pop hooks, but instead through good songwriting and solid production. With little besides acoustic instruments and Robin Pecknold's solid gold voice, Fleet Foxes has proven they can make a better album than even the biggest pop producers. This album delivers song after song, pleasing and captivating upon first listen, but deep enough to provide more and more upon further study. The harmony-accented melodies and fantastic instrumentation that fill this album show that Fleet Foxes truly knows what they're doing, and are proving that solid songwriting goes a long way. I have a really deep love for this album, and am fully confident that it is a huge landmark for music in general. I'd highly recommend it. Expand
  25. Jun 3, 2011
    10
    Fleet Foxes definitely have avoided the infamous "sophomore slump" that so many bands with great debuts fall into. Helplessness Blues gets better and better with each listen, and I would definitely recommend listening to it many times to discover all of the complexities and intricacies of the album.
  26. Aug 31, 2011
    10
    The Fleet Foxes release their highly anticipated second album and it's more than just a little bit good, in fact its a classic. You can tell that in the almost three years since their last album this fantastic collection of musicians have been hard at work, perfecting every strum of the guitar, hitting the sweet spot on every harmony and, most importantly, writing beautiful folk songs. TheThe Fleet Foxes release their highly anticipated second album and it's more than just a little bit good, in fact its a classic. You can tell that in the almost three years since their last album this fantastic collection of musicians have been hard at work, perfecting every strum of the guitar, hitting the sweet spot on every harmony and, most importantly, writing beautiful folk songs. The record begins with the best track of the album and never really falters as we take the journey with them back to a time probably just after the American civil war. The highlights of the album have to be "Montezuma", "Battery Kinzie", "Helplessness Blues", "lorelai" and "someone You'd Admire". This is easily the best album of the year so far and gives good competition to Kanye for the best of the decade so far. Amazing, Just Amazing. Expand
  27. Oct 4, 2011
    10
    Beautiful, and nothing less, Helplessness Blues is an instant classic. Lyrically and melodically superb it is the epitome of great folk music. The first time I heard Lorelai I began to tear up, and when I watched the Fleet Foxes perform Montezuma live I cried. I really feel I can connect with this album on a personal level, and maybe that is why I find it so remarkable.
  28. Oct 24, 2011
    9
    Snobbed by NME, this album is an emotional and powerful journey touching 40 years of American music:it is instant classic in an alternative way. Vocal performances make me dream and cry as few things heard before
  29. 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.
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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. 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]