Helplessness Blues - Fleet Foxes
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 162 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 2 out of 162

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  1. May 5, 2011
    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. Collapse
  2. May 3, 2011
    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
  3. May 3, 2011
    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. Expand
  4. May 4, 2011
    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'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
  5. May 3, 2011
    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.
  6. Jul 19, 2011
    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.
  7. May 24, 2011
    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.
  8. May 4, 2011
    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'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.
  9. May 5, 2011
    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.
  10. Jun 30, 2011
    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 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.
  11. Jul 22, 2011
    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 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
  12. May 12, 2011
    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.
  13. May 15, 2011
    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 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
  14. Jul 1, 2011
    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.
  15. May 3, 2011
    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 In All, Helplessness Blues is a wonderful album that's almost as great as there debut. A- Expand
  16. Sep 6, 2011
    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.
  17. Nov 9, 2011
    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
  18. Mar 10, 2012
    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.
  19. May 31, 2011
    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. Expand
  20. Dec 30, 2011
    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.
  21. May 5, 2011
    A full review:

  22. May 8, 2011
    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. May 6, 2011
    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.
  24. May 6, 2011
    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
  25. May 7, 2011
    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/An Arguement, Helplessness Blues, Grown Ocean & Montezuma. Expand
  26. May 7, 2011
    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 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
  27. May 18, 2011
    Great follow-up to their debut EP & LP. I particularly enjoy "Grown Ocean" where the band seems to really let go and play with more energy. Check out my full review here:
  28. May 8, 2011
    8 It's not quite up to the potentials of the first album, especially the first 3-4 songs, but the second half is gorgeous; stripped of its early boredom, the latest Fleet Foxes is not only brilliant but endlessly listenable. With the early issues, it's good, not great.
  29. May 10, 2011
    As one of the most anticipated releases of the year there is no doubt that expectations were high for this sophomore release. What Fleet Foxes have achieved where so many others have failed is to not only eclipse their first album, but to leave it completely in the dust. Where Fleet Foxes attempted (and largely succeeded) in rising above the monotony of popular music today, Helplessness Blues manages to keep this goal in tact, while managing to produce a sound that will likely appeal to both the masses and the critics. The result is an accomplishment that is reminiscent of simultaneously waking up on a mountain summit on a brisk dawn and coming home after a long hiatus to sit by a familiar fire. Moreover, Fleet Foxes have finally proven they can firmly hold the torch previously carried by CNSY, the Beach Boys, and Simon & Garfunkel. Expand
  30. May 28, 2011
    Jesus, NME's review is unbelievable. It's really too bad that glowing reviews from publications that actually know how to critique music get bogged down with **** like this. Oh, well.

    This album is utterly amazing. From the very opening notes of the familiar-feeling "Montezuma," I was transfixed by how the Foxes have managed to retain the sound that makes them so different while also
    moving in new, interesting directions. I love these guys. Expand
  31. May 13, 2011
    Canoe dig it? LOLZ But in all seriousness, this is just a rehash of old folk, a good one don't get me wrong but a rehash nonetheless. The debut was out of this world and original and sadly this is just nice, affable and passable but that's it.
  32. May 14, 2011
    At first I was a little unhappy with this album, I wanted it to be more like the first, not that it's vastly different but after I absorbed it for a little while, I found myself loving every song. There's not many albums I can listen to all the way through (In Rainbows is the only other that comes to mind) without at least one song I don't like so much, and while this album had some weak songs in my mind, overall the entire album is well worth actually paying for and owning forever, much less listening to. Expand
  33. May 29, 2011
    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.
  34. Jun 3, 2011
    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.
  35. Jun 3, 2011
    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.
  36. Jun 5, 2011
    I was rather skeptical after listening to the opening track, Montezuma, but after multiple listens, I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised by the quality of this album. At first, I was a little disappointed with the lack of drums on this album. Eventually, I began to love this album for what it is, a great indie folk album. All of the songs on this album are absolutely beautiful, and show how great indie folk music can be. Expand
  37. Jun 7, 2011
    The sound and production here is amazing. The vocals and harmonies are beyond anything from their first album or close to anything I've heard for that matter. However, it is not quiet as immediate or melodic as their first album and there aren't many songs that really stand out outside of their "sound". Still a really nice sounding album and probably deserves a few more listens.

    Highlights for me are Blue Spotted Tail, Lorelai and Helplessness Blues.
  38. Jun 13, 2011
    It's pretty rare that a band produces a second album that rivals their first one in quality. While I don't find that there is a standout single on Helplessness Blues the album as a whole just seems stronger and more mature than the s/t. Stellar sophomore album.
  39. Jun 21, 2011
    Love it- they get those rich harmonies just right, with variation and catchiness in every song. Helplessness Blues goes above and beyond the bar set by Fleet Foxes' first album. A melodic and lyrical masterpiece.
  40. Jun 29, 2011
    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.
  41. Jul 26, 2011
    Better than the first. I heard simon and garfunkel are considering suing. Stand out tracks:Montezuma, The Plains / Bitter Dancer, Helplessness Blues.
  42. Aug 9, 2011
    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.
  43. Aug 30, 2011
    The best of 2011 for those individuals educated beyond grade 12 that don't define the quality of music by the volume of profanity contained in each song. Highly recommended!
  44. Aug 31, 2011
    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. 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
  45. Sep 2, 2011
    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.
  46. Sep 11, 2011
    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.
  47. Oct 22, 2012
    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.
  48. Oct 4, 2011
    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.
  49. Oct 12, 2011
    Nearly perfect record ... adventurous and unique, this album will stand the test of time. It doesn't "rock", and there's no Stephen Stills in this band (as they are often compared to CSNY,) but it does something more. It conveys a mood brilliantly and it's parts bring together some of the most gorgeous, honest and original song writing to come along in a long, long time.
  50. Dec 16, 2011
    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.
  51. Oct 24, 2011
    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
  52. Oct 28, 2011
    BEAUTIFUL, just everything I could ever want in an album, seeing them live confirmed their true musical genius. I feel as though they really tried to make this album slightly more interesting than the first, which was already great. Perhaps the most underrated track is "The Cascades", what a stunning instrumental, really takes you on a mental journey. Long live Fleet Foxes!!!
  53. Oct 31, 2011
    I wasn't used to the progressive sound at first; Robin sounds different, that's the most obvious difference here. But that's what most bands do--their sound progresses, or, perhaps I should say, matures. And while this band's debut album is still one of my all-time favorites, this is still one of the best albums of the year, along with Cage the Elephant's Thank You Happy Birthday and the Antlers' Burst Apart. Expand
  54. Jan 5, 2012
    This is a beautiful album, when I make a cup of coffee and put paint to canvas, nothing inspires me more than this album. I honestly thought they couldn't top thier first effort, but now I think they did. Helplessness Blues deserves a 10 and in my opinion is a tossup for best album of the year with Tom Waits 'Bad as Me."
  55. Dec 13, 2011
    Fleet Foxes is one of those bands that really grows on you with some time and careful listening. While their sound is definitely inspired from the more folksy side of the 1970's, they feel unlike any other band at the same time. And "Helplessness Blues", like their first album, really does them justice in the folk rock realm. The songs all feel like they belong together, and honestly there's not a single bad one on here. Robin Pecknold feels like he's speaking to you personally at times, like in "Blue Spotted Tail" where he sings with his signature soft hum about the question of mortality and the world around us. I don't think another band could really pull off these songs like Fleet Foxes do. Every single one feels genuine. This is up with my favorite albums of 2011, the highlights including the title track, the creepy "The Shrine / An Argument", "Lorelai", "Someone You'd Admire", and the beautiful final track "Grown Ocean", which is the song that got me into this band. Expand
  56. Dec 14, 2011
    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.
  57. Jan 12, 2014
    I give it a 9.75.
    -Brilliant instruments (mostly acoustic guitar)
    -Beautiful vocals
    -Tremendous songwriting
    Great album, matches with their previous one, both are fantastic and I don't think I could pick which one I like better
  58. Jul 1, 2013
    Not as accessible as their first album. Less structured and more jam-oriented, it took a few listens to really get into it. But once you stop looking for patterns, hooks, and other familiarities that we typically listen for and let yourself be carried away by the flawless harmony and imagery of this album, you'll reach the nirvana that few bands but Fleet Foxes can deliver.
  59. Nov 17, 2013
    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 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

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
    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
    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]