''Helplessness Blues'' by Fleet Foxes

To preview their sophomore album, Helplessness Blues, due for a May release, indie darlings Fleet Foxes have just posted the record’s title track for free download. It took me a long time to get over my initial skepticism about the band when their first album got so hyped, but it’s hard to deny the lush 70s-style gorgeousness of their country-folk-pop harmonies which come across as equal parts Eagles and Seals & Crofts.

The first half of this new song sounds like something Simon & Garfunkel might have done for their Bookends album, a personal reflection that feels somehow bigger, almost like a generational reflection: I was raised up believing I was somehow unique like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes… and now after some thinking, I’d say I’d rather be a functioning cog in some great machine. Then, a little more than halfway through, the song takes a turn. What started as a simple, brisk campfire story song morphs into something slower, more rhythmically complex, more atmospheric. The unadorned two part harmonies of the first half give way to an almost choral sound: “If I had an orchard, I’d work ’til I’m sore.” It’s like a small Great Recession-era John Steinbeck novel in song. I can’t wait for the album.

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues by subpop