Permanent Record - Best LPs of 2011 - Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues

SP - 888: Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues; 2011.   Helplessness Blues begins with a song called "Montezuma" that goes: "So now I am older/ than my mother and my father/ when they had their daughter/ now what does that say about me?" Essentially, it says that Fleet Foxes are the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and, yes, sometimes Young for the current generation - whoever they are. Raising glub comparisons does nothing for the band; however, this little un-assuming band from Seattle, WA has made good on the promise of the new folk revival.

   Even down to the album artwork (a beautifully drawn piece by Toby Liebowitz and painted by Chris Alderson) this album feels like one of those classic LPs you might find in a stack of your parents old record collection. All that's missing is that moldy basement smell. Apparently, the guys wanted that Van Morrison Astral Weeks where, "there were only six hours in the universe for that album to be recorded in," or so says frontman Robin Pecknold.

   Mission accomplished boys, good work. The album ranges from serenely folkish to Gershwinian jazz, up and down, honest. And what makes this album special is its honesty. "I was raised up believing/ I was somehow unique/ like a snowflake, distinct among snowflakes/ unique in each way you'd conceive./ And now after some thinking/ I'd say I'd rather be/ a functioning cog in some great machinery/ serving something beyond me" Pecknold ponders in "Helplessness Blues" and stumbles upon a sentiment growing more common - a want to contribute to the world and community at large. These songs are epic, but not too downtrodden, just maybe bouncy enough to get people dancing in a barn.We also love it because you can see it on a shelf!

   As far as record packages go, you can't go wrong with a nice large poster and that's exactly what Helplessness Blues has for you. A nice reproduction of the drawing on the front cover (sans color) and a bunch of nice interesting thank you's on the back. Fleet Foxes label Sub Pop has been making vinyl a lot longer than you've been listening to it, and once again the quality is superb. Super flat, thick wax and everything sounds glorious. Basically, this is most things you can want from a record, which is why it's one of the best LPs of 2011.