Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues

Razor-phobic Yanks’ tilt at the Great American Album.

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Just two albums in and Seattle’s Fleet Foxes have already made themselves comfortable somewhere between Crosby, Stills & Nash and Basement Tapes-era Dylan.

They may name-check Nirvana and current alt.rock standard bearers Death Cab For Cutie in interviews, but Helplessness Blues is as wilfully out of time as Robin Pecknold’s frontiersman-style facial hair.

Its 12 tracks hover somewhere between heaven and earth, the sepia-toned rusticity (‘Ruffled the fur of the collie ’neath the table, ran through the door in the dark,’ Pecknold sings on Sim Sala Bim) elevated by the sort of cosmic harmonies that belie their youth (early 20s) and geographical location (drizzly Pacific Northwest).

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.