Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (4/5). Seattle folk band Fleet Foxes' eponymous debut was an enduring and eclectic mix of old fashioned but contemporary folkish pop, so it only makes sense that the sound on its follow-up begins to venture into more left-field territories. The distinctive subtly in their sound, wrapped in enchanting backdrop atmospherics and fibrous harmonies and of course the obligatory soft acoustic guitar melodies is spine-tingling--instantly demonstrated on opening track "Montezuma." Other songs such as "Bedouin Dress" clock in more on the sweet, swooning harmonies, indulging in layers of different guitaric patterns and prominent drum backing, whereas others such as "Battery Kinzie" are darker--drumming up an element of haunt as the disquieting drums and guitar chords cave in. "The Shrine / An Argument" further showcasing the diverse in sound. The minimalist guitar-fiddling approach for the first half of the song, in which also highlights a distinct toughness in Robin Pecknold's vocal, before the composition becomes grander for the second half; heavier drums backing and boisterous guitar patterns. Helplessness Blues is an enjoyable album, clocking on sensitivity, diversity and all around a folkishly eclectic set similar to their debut but a little more out there. Best: Montezuma, Battery Kinzie, Bedouin Dress, The Shrine / An Argument, Helplessness Blues, Sim Sala Bim.
The Decemberists - The King is Dead (4/5). Similar to Fleet Foxes, American indie folk band The Decemberists build their sound around acoustic guitars and have a distinct folkish aura too. However they're slightly more country-tinged and shed a discrete authentic rock vibe which spearheads the record's consistency--from the mid-tempo folkish-twang of "Don't Carry It All," and "Calamity Song" to the slower acoustic guitar melodies of "Rise to Me" and "January Hymn." The best song on here is "This is Why We Fight" (which has topped my personal chart for 5 weeks now) featuring awesome guitar patterns, layers of dabbling guitar work. The chorus is awesome too--probably the catchiest on here. My only gripe would be the lack of diversity in sound, which isn't really that big of a deal considering most country/folk albums to tend to have similar sounding songs--it's all about the lyrics--which highlights my major flaw as a reviewer; I never know what they're talking about. Best: This is Why We Fight, Rise to Me, Don't Carry it All, January Hymn, Dear Avery.