With all of today’s kids pulling up retro kicks and playing with sounds of the 50s or 80s, this band of boys does something different. The Fleet Foxes are playing to a beat long forgotten; they are playing to a folk drum with folly-filled fiddlers and tambourine girls. This is the folk sound of the late 60s and 70s and it’s rearing its head in Helplessness Blues.

The Fleet Foxes have been on the major band-o-sphere after the success of their last album, Sun Giant, in 2008. However, at that time and before the release of any recordings, they were already well known via word-of-mouth and MySpace, following the tradition of all ‘Indi’ Folk bands. This owes to the bands perforating sound, so unique for today and such a calling card to the other folk greats such as Dire Straits, Bread and unmistakably Simon and Garfunkle.

Helplessness Blues is the band’s second album, and it abandons the empty haunting sound of Sun Giant for a tumble of tambourines and fiddles – everything is simply less empty in Helplessness Blues. The lyrics are soft and whimsical while the rhythm is melodic and repetitive, creating a soporific effect like the sound of silence in the field behind a huge gardens concert. It is impossible to leave the space without feeling you have just spent the past three days at Woodstock with your parents, being very indecent.

This band just does that, they transport you from the office cubicles of your greyest days to a yellow carpet in green grass, smoking naughty things.

For example, my favourite track is ‘Someone You’d Admire’ – with melancholic lyrics this dreamy lullaby is a keeper. The repetitive guitar strums with the layered voice effects recall the haunted sound of their first album and the movie ‘Philadelphia’. Listen to it and all of a sudden you’re wandering around forgotten streets holding hands with Bruce Springsteen and Tom Hanks.

I’m not one for floozy folk music: I prefer cleaner meaner songs from bands such as The Kills, but this band just grew on me. Their unmistakable talent is something fresh, and intriguing. However, I can see how people can instantly dislike them, turning their noses up at ‘just another Indi band’, because The Fleet Foxes do create that feel in an obvious way.  In this respect I have no idea where the Fleet Foxes might be in 10 years, whether or not they will be known as one of the greats or just a fizzle-out. And that is the great risk with bands like this, since the retro-loving crowd can simply just move on.

In the meantime, I like the Fleet Foxes. However, whether or not I would play them on repeat while I’m on my way home from work, is a question of whether I feel like being in a field with way too many daisies and hippies and cavorting on strange carpets, which is not often. But, overall the Helplessness Blues is a great album from a great band, and deserves a good listen.

By Kimbal Stokes 

Advertisements