Best Albums of 2011: #3
Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
If there's one thing that can really turn me off from any music publication, it's got to be when albums get discredited simply because it's not the band's first album. Not surprisingly, I sort of did the same thing when I first heard Helplessness Blues. At first I wavered as to whether or not I preferred the simplicity of heart in Fleet Foxes' debut self-titled album over the emotional complexity in Helplessness Blues. I reasoned that perhaps Fleet Foxes were biting off more than they could chew -- that maybe they should stick to singing about furry animals and sunrises. That is, until the Occupy movement hit the streets in every major city in country, young people took over the Republican Party behind a 76-year old libertarian named Ron Paul, and every able-bodied Internet user regardless of political affiliation took up arms against the Internet censorship bill, SOPA.
Not to say that Helplessness Blues is at all a political album. Instead, it's music about desiring to be a part of something bigger than yourself; part of a movement. It rightly reaches back to the Joan Baezs and John Lennons of the original youth movement of the 60s for inspiration both musically and thematically -- attempting to inspire people to dare be more than consumers of materialism. When Paste assembled a list called the 10 Anthems For Our Generation and put the titular track from Fleet Foxes' album at #1 over songs by Arcade Fire, The Decemberists, and The National, they were totally 100% correct.
Best Tracks: "Helplessness Blues", "Grown Ocean"