My first encounter with Fleet Foxes was in the Spring of my sophomore year of high school, purchasing their self-titled release at Euclid Records in St. Louis on a whim purely based on the colorful, baroque album art that I hadn't seen done in a long while. Like most scenesters at the time I wore the hell out of that album, and it to some degree became the soundtrack of that late spring.
Oddly enough, it was the baroque chamber pop sound and nostalgic, natural lyrics that I was initially drawn to that eventually turned me off the band. They could write a damn good harmony and produce a consistently catchy album, but it just wasn't personal. It gave me a good feeling, but didn't have the substance in the background to support it. I'm quite happy to say the new album has pushed past this problem significantly.
Helplessness Blues is the most self-reflective work I've heard from Pecknold. It reaches into his struggle creating a follow-up sophomore album and chronicles his life falling apart in pursuit of truly being heard. The church reverbs are still there, as are the old-timey production, and heavenly harmonies resonant of the first album. However, whereas the the first album sung primarily of strawberries, swallows, and summertime, the new album cuts into human nature and has something to actually tell the listener. "Montezuma", "Battery Kinzie", "Someone You'd Admire", and "Grown Ocean" are notable first favorites, and "Helplessness Blues" might be one of my favorite tracks of the whole year. I've only gone through the album a few times so far, so more words will be deserved later, but for now I'd just reccomend grabbing it in the comments and running by your record store today if it strikes your fancy. Even if you burnt yourself out on the Foxes a ways back, like I did, be sure to give this one a chance.