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Boomkat Product Review:
Blues was never a genre that sprung to mind when listening to Fleet Foxes debut EP 'Sun Giant' or their breakthrough self-titled debut full length. The sunny, shimmering near-choral folk was certainly referential to music past, but to something far more upbeat than blues, surely? Well this time around the darker, sadder side of the band has been exposed, and it's hardly surprising. The way their debut was received was just so conclusive - the album was instantly hailed as a classic and swept up enough sales to prove it, with mums and dads weighing in just as much (maybe even more?) as the hipster folk set. Sure they managed to strip down the distinctly West Coast sound of The Beach Boys and fuse it with Simon and Garfunkel and that should be an easy sell, but their sound was much more than that, and 'Helplessness Blues' shows exactly how deep their ideas flow. The 'difficult' second album is only ever made more difficult with universal critical acclaim, but instead of offering simply more of the same the band appear shadowy and somehow more minimal. The distinct chamber choral qualities have been accentuated, and the distinct, poignant 'movements' of their songwriting have risen to another level entirely. This is far from the regular indie rock you might expect to be gracing the pages of the NME, and is thankfully just as distanced from the nauseating pop-folk of Mumford and Sons. 'Helplessness Blues' is an assured, consistently interesting record from a band who seem unafraid to challenge their listeners. Sometimes it's easy to forget that folk music was about telling stories, and Fleet Foxes' stories are as enchanting as they have ever been.