Wednesday, 11 May 2011

4. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

Warning. This review contains strong language and a mention of Jeremy Clarkson. Sadly, both are necessary.

Leg it! The hipsters are coming! With their beards, their checked shirts and a new album they recorded in a forest in Nevada, after the principal songwriter broke up with the love of his life, because, you know, 'sometimes shit happens.' Probably. It's so very easy to dislike the Fleet Foxes with their acoustic guitars, walls of harmonies, wooly hats, universal acclaim and damn preciousness. So let's calmly put all that terrible prejudice and preconception to one side, lower the needle to the vinyl and give it a chance.

OK, so the first five seconds sound like the first five seconds of that Snow Patrol song, but we'll let it go, at least there are no massive, overbearing harmonies yet. In fact there are no harmonies for a full thirty seconds. But bloody hell when they start, do they keep coming. Of course complaining about harmonies on a Fleet Foxes record is as pointless as complaining that Jeremy Clarkson is a cunt. Fleet Foxes = harmonies. Jememy Clarkson = you get the idea. But there's just so many and the whole thing sounds so lush that by two minutes into the second song you are desperate for Metal Machine era Lou Reed to burst through the barn door, shoot the hairy fuckers with his feedback, whilst screaming at them to get proper jobs.

Speaking of jobs, Robin Pecknold, chief Fox, sings, 'If I had an orchard, I'd work til I'm raw. If I had an orchard I'd work til I'm sore.' I for one would love to see old Robin put to work on a twelve hour shift in an orchard. At least it might blister his fingers so he can't fret his twee chords for a few hours, exhaust him so there's no energy left to marshall his harmony rousing rabble. And what else would you expect twee, fiddly-folky, Fleet Foxes to sing about? Apples by any chance? They've already longed for an orchard, so it would make thematic sense. Well, they don't fucking disappoint! 'Green apples hang from my tree, they belong only to me, Green apples hang from my green apple tree, they belong only to, only to me.'

Yes, I know, fuck me. Apples.

And, yes, they have recorded the sound of Tibetan singing bowls. Tibetan. Singing. Bowls. Oh, my god, maybe it's a spoof! Maybe they are sat in their log huts, fake beards hung up, some heavy RnB grinding out, laughing at the fact that people are buying this utter arse. It's a thought to cling to.

The Independent thinks this album is 'an overwhelmingly gorgeous experience.' The Guardian says it's 'laughably beautifully.' Even the bubble-bursting people at Pitchfork think it's worth 8.8 out of 10. OneYearOneHundredAlbums thinks it sucks fake folk balls.


  1. Agree. It sucks fake folk balls. That says it all. Well put.

  2. Very funny, and quite a few targets hit in the bull's eye. But ... at their best they do make a lovely noise. The trouble is that when in doubt they always resort to going oooooh ooooh ooooh aaaaaah oooooh.

  3. That album is brilliant what are you even saying?!

  4. Ace review, even though I like the record, or parts of it, it can be quite cloying.