Their 2008 self-titled debut possessed honest four-man folk harmonies and Brian Wilson pop sensibilities. The songs felt strangely out of place in an age of digitized electronic swirls and pulsing beats. Even though folk ideals and guitar strummers with airy vocals have been "it" for sometime now, Fleet Foxes avoids this classification because their sound doesn't hover the corporate folk-rock/casual "indie" scene like Band of Horses or My Morning Jacket. Despite being oddly unique with arrangements that don't sell on paper, Robin Pecknold's ghost-tinged vocals are anything but a tough sell for radio listeners, apprehensive music buyers and Jack Johnson fans.
Helplessness Blues is darker, fuller and more global than its predecessor. The rural Appalachian gene is still present, but the instrumentation shifts are less Westernized, which may account for the sound being less immediate, but nonetheless stunning. There's also the spirit of Simon and Garfunkel on the well-placed "Blue Spotted Tail" and the record's title track. The depth Helplessness Blues possesses reveals something new with each listen. At the end of the day, Fleet Foxes are worth the hype and sold-out shows. Not many bands can win over young hipsters, your parents and Sonic Youth obsessives.