AOTY 2023

Helplessness Blues

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
Critic Score
Based on 40 reviews
2011 Ratings: #23 / 1023
Year End Rank: #5
User Score
2011 Ratings: #4
Liked by 421 people
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The next classic addition to America's great, historic folk canon.

This album is destined to redraw the parameters, thanks to its sheer scale and detail, its recurring themes and imagery, and its creators' refusal to settle for less than they could achieve.
Pretty Much Amazing
Fleet Foxes make a particular kind of mongrel music, by which I mean music that is thoroughly American. No other band today can take an abstraction that wide and fraught and make it seem so authentic and intimate.
The Independent

With Helplessness Blues, Fleet Foxes triumphantly deliver on the promise of their popular debut, the album that helped establish folk-rock once again as a formidable commercial force rather than just a fringe interest.

A.V. Club

Wide-eyed self-searching is this record’s predominant mode, which Fleet Foxes do both lyrically and sonically, reveling in the process of discovery.

Beats Per Minute

Fleet Foxes have become a band who will not stop pushing, who will challenge themselves to avoid stagnancy, who will work with both their instruments and their minds.

No Ripcord

Helplessness Blues is a cosmic, bombastic record, undaunted and ready to expose itself on every corner with a whole lot of heart.

American Songwriter
The words are as woodsy and quaint as ever. Pecknold seems to take his inspiration from classic British poetry, and rarely refers to objects, characters, or events that would place him in the 21st century, relying instead on imagery like old stone fountains, seeds, keys, sand, and the night sky.
The 405
Whether they will enter them into the decorated halls of the Seattle's unique musical dynasty remains to be seen, but on the evidence of this softly stirring release, it's looking good for the young group.
God Is in the TV
Of course, this isn’t groundbreaking, modern music, and the influences shine through – Bob Dylan, Roy Harper, Brian Wilson. But the real achievement of this album is that it is still unmistakably Fleet Foxes. It’s just they’re moving into deeper, more interesting waters.
Consequence of Sound

It’s an album that makes you sad that it’s not longer; sad that it can’t just go on forever.


For now, Pecknold and his bandmates are important cogs in the indie-music scene — with a few more albums akin to Helplessness Blues under their belts, they may soon fit just as nicely into the canon of American folk music.

Musically, the hooks are softer, the arrangements more ambitious, and 1960s British psychedelic folk (Fairport Convention, Vashti Bunyan, Pentangle) a far more palpable influence than the Americana that fueled the band's 2008 debut.
The Needle Drop

On Helplessness Blues, Fleet Foxes improve just about everything that they were doing on their last album.


Helplnessness Blues is not a reinvention, but rather a refinement.

Slant Magazine

Helplessness Blues succeeds because Fleet Foxes find a way to consistently balance the added level of nuance with their natural inclinations toward epic songcraft.


The record showcases the band's expanded range and successful risk-taking, while retaining what so many people fell in love with about the group in the first place.

The Guardian
The result is almost laughably beautiful.

Helplessness Blues is as passionately desolate as anything on Closer, the record which documented Ian Curtis' romantic guilt and existential confusion.

The Skinny

Whether Fleet Foxes represent the best of folk music’s renaissance is arguable, but they’ve unquestionably returned the genre to the masses. It’s hard to imagine that the gentle beauty of Helplessness Blues will do anything but spread that message further.

The Telegraph
Pecknold enthusiastically revealed how the album was a direct result of his indulgence in MP3 piracy, as he tracked back to discover Fairport Convention, Roy Harper, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and all the heroes of the Sixties folk boom.
By satisfactorily maintaining many of the band’s old tricks whilst bringing in a newfound depth and complexity, ‘Helplessness Blues’ deserves to maintain this state of affairs.
Q Magazine

Both mysterious and inviting, Helplessness Blues retains and expands what made the debut so special. It's an open door to a private world.

The Irish Times

Helplessness Blues is riddled with doubt, insecurity and a bespoke organic, neo-hippy angst.

Rolling Stone
Too young to have experienced the era he holds so dear, Pecknold has found refuge and inspiration in the echoes.
Under the Radar

Far from that folksy, laid-back image, Helplessness Blues confirms Fleet Foxes' place as one of the most exacting, creative, and straight-up best bands making music in 2011.


It's the music that stands out, and the band's acoustic folk/chamber pop combo makes every song sound like a grand tribute to back-to-the-land living.


This is a dynamic record that improves on the band’s already impressive accomplishments in every way.

Drowned in Sound

It’s a richer, more diverse sound than their self-titled LP or the Sun Giant EP.

It comes down to what you're expecting here. Do you earnestly yearn for another album full of beautifully arranged, meticulously pored over harmonic acoustic folk? Then this is probably your album of the year to beat.
Spectrum Culture

Helplessness Blues is definitely not the feared sophomore slump, nor is it simply a batch of lesser songs culled from their earlier work. It’s occasionally rough and sounds like a work in motion (although seemingly planned that way, paradoxically), while they’ve rarely sounded anything but perfectly constructed and arranged.


Wistful and plaintive, solemn yet blissful, these are songs from another time – if not another planet – and their mesmerising melodies have the powerful ability to transport you, temporally and spatially, into the band’s anachronistic, peaceful, eternal summer.


This is more than just a supremely strong follow-up.

Coke Machine Glow

Robin Pecknold’s well-chronicled bout with writer’s block and three years later, Helplessness Blues has arrived, and the good news is that it unquestionably sounds like a Fleet Foxes record—which is to say: warm and exquisitely pretty.

Classic Rock
It might not quite be the Important Record they fancy it to be, but it’s nothing if not a step in the right direction.
Entertainment Weekly

On Helplessness Blues, their second disc of intimate, obsessively crafted folk, the bearded Seattleites take a giant step forward in their quest to turn the clock backward.

The Observer
"Helplessness Blues" is a lovely song. But the album's deep irony is that Pecknold's great machinery is all around him, even as he seems to be removing himself from it. It's called Fleet Foxes.
Tiny Mix Tapes

While Helplessness Blues is sparser and more restrained than its predecessor, it's also spotted by unexpected flourishes that are almost experimental by the band's traditionalist standard.

NOW Magazine

His guttural howl on The Shrine/An Argument is the only moment when Helplessness Blues snaps out of its preciousness and hints that this genre can be more than a soundtrack to brunch.


Fleet Foxes suck. They’re the soy-latte house band of Starbucks.


Your ears will be very appreciative of you if you let them hear this album


Blissful folk music, nice way to start my day!

Released in May 2011, having been recorded throughout 2010 at different studios across the US, Fleet Foxes' sophomore album was released to acclaim as well as being nominated for a Grammy (Best Folk Album).

I've always wanted to hear the American band Fleet Foxes at some point, even if I'm not that much of a listener in regards to folk music. One thing that always grabbed my attention with this band was their artworks, which are rich in detail ... read more


Lively folk is what I LIVE FOR!!!!

I didn’t expect this to be this stunningly beautiful. But what Fleet foxes do here is absolutely incredible. The folk and chamber sound of this record can only be described as some of the most lively and bright I’ve heard in the genre.

And that sound is only made ever stronger by Robin Pecknold’s outstanding vocal performance. His tone throughout most of the song’s in this record is extremely enthusiastic and charismatic. Continuing ... read more


my ear's feel really good,extremely relaxing music,with some honestly,orgasmic moments.

with extremely relatable existential lyrics,especially on the songs montezuma and helplessness blues,not sad songs,but they are sad because of the theme of getting older,finding your place in the world and eventually dying,we are all going to die eventually,and that is ok,i think,but is really weird and sad to think about your eventual demise,but you gotta accept it and decide how you wanna pass your days ... read more


Melodic, well written and emotional. Not a single song that feels off.

Fav song: Title track


Another amazing album in wich you can realy enjoy
tbh everything i said for their debut record stands for this one to

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