Fleet Foxes have announced the follow-up to their 2008 self-titled album. The Seattle folk-rockers will release Helplessness Blues on 3 May, followed by North American and European tour dates.
After the unexpected success of their debut LP, Fleet Foxes show no sign of changing direction. Once again, the band recorded songs with Phil Ek, who produced their first album and both of their EPs. Once again, the music features acoustic guitars, yearning choruses and five-part vocal harmonies. And once again the cover art – this time by painter Chris Alderson, not Pieter Bruegel the Elder – evokes a homepsun nostalgia.
If the name Helplessness Blues seems almost self-mocking, there is no sign of irony in the title track streaming now at Soundcloud. But it is a song about abandoning "helplessness blues", running back to someone "some day, soon" with "tongue-tied" promises and talk of orchards. Frontman Robin Pecknold previously described the album as "a little bit less upbeat" and "less poppy" than the first record, citing the influence of Roy Harper's Stormcock and Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. Yet there's no evidence of this darker side on the title track; Fleet Foxes are still more Simon and Garfunkel than Scott Walker.
Helplessness Blues has 12 tracks, recorded at four different studios over the course of a year. Multi-instrumentalist Morgan Henderson has officially joined the band, according to a press release, and will join them on tour this spring. Fleet Foxes will play London's Hammersmith Apollo on 31 May. Tickets go on sale at 9am this Friday.