Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
(Sub Pop, 2011)
Anyone who knows me will realize how much it pains me to recommend this album. Being one of the staunchest critics of Fleet Foxes, or more specifically the undeserved attention bestowed upon them by anyone with a keyboard in which to worship, I rebelled against the hype back in 2008. White Winter Hymnal and Blue Ridge Mountains were good songs, maybe great, but you have to admit Robin Pecknold‘s voice was a little hard to hear over the throngs of followers singing his praise.
Not letting the hype get in the way of my musical enjoyment is something I pride myself on. I think half of Pitchfork‘s Best New Music really is the ‘best new music’ and I listen to it and recommend it because ‘I” feel that way, not because Matt LeMay or Stephen M. Deusner tell me to feel that way. That being said, I can’t help but get annoyed when I see the same five bands everyone I look. Especially when I don’t think there is anything special about these bands. It reminds me of the radio days when you had to listen to the same ten songs over and over again all week long. Hence my personal backlash against bands like Vampire Weekend, Fleet Foxes and (the majority of) post-Feels Animal Collective.
In much the same way I won’t let anyone tell me what I like, I won’t let them tell me what I don’t like. So here I am, suggesting an album from a band I used to talk a lot shit about. On the first listen I realized the boys from Seattle had matured considerably. I’m not going to go through a track-by-track review here, I’ll leave that to the writers who have been doing it since the Sun Giant EP, but if you were a Fleet Foxes fan I think you’ll be impressed with what they have to offer here and if you were a doubter like myself, give ’em another chance. Maybe you’ll come around like I did. Or maybe you won’t. It really is all a matter of personal taste.