“Carnivorous Families”

I’m sitting here listening to Fleet Foxes. Much like Stephen Malkmus, he finds himself cooped up in an urban environment on the west coast, wishing for a “range life.” Except in his case, it’s an “orchard.”

Helplessness Blues is not enigmatic anthem domain the way their self-titled debut was, which is why it took me a while to get into it. And in general, Fleet Foxes really don’t make dramatic statements. This is especially commendable since pop music, today more than ever, constitutes almost entirely dramatic statements, even the ones of simple, pastoral romance given a shade of underdog conquest or mythical eliteness. And I think one thing that pissed me off about Helplessness Blues was the title, because I didn’t picture Robin Pecknold actually being helpless, but now I kind of see how — even if he conquers life at one stage, life is polymorphous, changing its shape, and his, around every turn of the hemispheres. The thing for which the songwriter is commendable on this album is giving the palpable sense that creating hip, relevant, unifying folk music is actually the only thing on earth he can do (since he doesn’t have an orchard).

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