Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Album review: FLEET FOXES - Helplessness Blues

Highlights: Montezuma, Sim Sala Bin, The Shrine/An Argument

Boy are they all afraid of making a mistake! All these young and hip modern indie bands. Fleet Foxes enjoyed some serious success 3 years ago with their self-titled debut, and it’s as if that success wasn’t so much soul and spirit liberating as this heavy burden tied firmly around their white and refined necks. No, they wouldn’t blow it. They would record that same record again, only less spontaneous, with different tunes and more precision.

It’s all good music, no argument here. Self-consciously gorgeous, Beach Boys-inspired indie folk songs with various degrees of catchiness. Meticulous harmonies and relatively diverse arrangements, hippie-esque vibes, lovely vocal melodies. What’s not to like? Well, nothing, really, except maybe the fact that you feel so much hard work behind these tunes and production you start missing the freshness, the spark. In fact, the only serious punch comes with the pounding section of the album's most memorable and hard-hitting performance, “The Shrine/An Argument”. The moment that reminds you that these are some real artists – willing to impress, not just please.  

I know I keep mentioning this in every second review of mine, but fucking hell: releasing a follow-up to your debut three (!) years later is indeed a sign of tragic times. Because really. There’s no artistic growth here. This is all linear development, imprisonment by style. But good style? All right: good style.


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