Seat­tle sound’s sec­ond com­ing

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Music -

HELP­LESS­NESS Blues is the shot in the arm mod­ern mu­sic needs.

In the vast sea of sam­pled, tweaked, remixed, ripped off, hor­ri­ble, cringe­wor­thy pop mu­sic – ( yes, I am look­ing for­ward to Lady Gaga’s new al­bum) – Fleet Foxes have de­liv­ered an al­bum that’s un­likely to cross over com­mer­cially but re­ally does de­serve to do so.

Its dis­arm­ing beauty comes at a slow, con­tem­pla­tive pace. The record’s ar­range­ments are am­bi­tious, while the lyrics come off ide­al­is­tic and youth­ful.

Po­etic singer Robin Pec­knold shines brightly. On Mon­tezuma, an echo­ing gui­tar flows gen­tly around soft har­monies and Pec­knold’s honey-dipped vo­cal cords.

Solid grooves and hearty bass pro­vide an an­chor for all the al­bum’s fin­ger­pick­ing gui­tar and wist­ful melodies.

Help­less­ness Blues is a skil­ful com­bi­na­tion of dusty folk, vintage psychedelic pop and Crosby Stills and Nash-es­que Amer­i­cana.

Far from just an­other in­die-folk-rock record, the al­bum delves deep into a world of wacky in­stru­ments. Its at­ten­tion to de­tail is in­cred­i­ble and not once does a Moog, tam­bura or zither take away from the so­phis­ti­cated, tri­umphant au­then­tic­ity of this Seat­tle-based sex­tet’s sec­ond record.

There’s also clar­inet, wood flute, a mu­sic box, pedal steel gui­tar, lap steel gui­tar, Ti­betan singing bowls and vi­bra­phone. But oddly no kitchen sink.

The Shrine/ An Ar­gu­ment is a prime ex­am­ple of their all-or-noth­ing song­writ­ing style, with crazy, rhyth­mic tim­ing shifts that come as a sur­prise ev­ery time. It’s a long song but it has many high­lights, none more bril­liant than the ca­coph­ony of brass that com­pletely freaked me out at the fin­ish.

The band con­jures up a mys­ti­cal vibe on The Cas­cade, an­other high point on an al­bum that’s full of them.

On the ti­tle track, they chan­nel Si­mon and Gar­funkel with a lofty cho­rus.

While Bat­tery Kinzie clocks in at un­der three min­utes, it feels a lot longer – in a good way – with its am­bi­tion and dy­namic style.

Grown Ocean has got the blues in a big bad way. It’s a sad, sad song high­lighted by a weep­ing slide gui­tar.

One of the pre­vail­ing themes of the al­bum is the strug­gle be­tween who you

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