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In 2008, Fleet Foxes came out with a self-titled debut album that quickly became popular and favored by top music magazines such as Spin, The Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Q, and Mojo. They are well-known for their expansive folk-pop songs and beautiful, yet haunting harmonies. The great success of the debut album became a challenge for their follow-up album.
This year they brought out Helplessness Blues, which was originally set to be released in 2009. However, the popular band got tied up and quite busy in their tour schedule, and ended up going through an ongoing process of rewriting and re-recording songs.
Creating Helplessness Blues was a long cycle for Fleet Foxes. There seemed to be a great amount of second-guessing and lack of agreement among band members. The entire album was mixed twice during the whole process.
“I think at a certain point I did lose my mind,” lead Robin Pecknold says to Canada.com over the phone. “It was just really tough. There was so much riding on it for me personally. Our first album was good but I don’t think creatively it was 100 percent reflective of us as a band or us as individuals. We toured that record forever and we wanted to come up with something that was good but also an individual expression. It took a long time to get there.”
Helplessness Blues contains bigger contributions with the album’s thematic and musical direction from guitarist Skye Skjelset, drummer Josh Tillman, keyboardist Casey Wescott, bassist Christian Wargo and multi-instrumentalist/arranger Morgan Henderson even though the the themes are usually about Pecknold’s personal path.
The members pushed Pecknold to become more personal with his lyrics, but he feels that their support and encouragement are integrated within these songs also. The band has been more collaborative at this level, and that everyone’s input mattered.
“There are so many considerations to make when you are making a record,” Pecknold said in an interview with Stereogum. “You just want to make the best thing that you can, you know? You want it to be a good song, but it can’t be too much like anything else you’ve already done. And you can’t help but think about the landscape that this music is going to be received in, which also affects your creative process.”
Fleet Foxes made sure to not repeat songs from their debut album, especially after such a huge hit for having such unique folk songs and harmonies. It would be an understatement to say they worked hard for reaching this level. It seems that the album has been successful since its release, and their songs have continued to soothe listeners and let them experience a wondrous sound.
Image Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/nrk-p3/3654445249/