at last the second fleet foxes album full of sweet folk, baroque pop and free jazz that more than matches the greatness of their influences - roy harper, 'smile' era brian wilson abd crosby, stills and nash. 'helplessness blues' was recorded over the course of a year at avast recording, bear creek studios, dreamland studios, and reciprocal recording. the album was mixed by phil ek and co-produced by fleet foxes and ek. 'helplessness blues' is a thoughtful, elegant record that retains a great deal of what people loved about the foxes the first time around. it adds some surprises too. the jazz coda to 'the shrine / an argument' shows off the foxes's expansive ears; the faintly eastern lilt on songs such as 'bedouin dress' or 'the plains / bitter dancer' keeps their template fresh. to the mesh of guitars and voices come zithers and tibetan singing bowls, as well as something called a marxophone. 'helplessness blues' is born out of a fraught gestation period, touched by doubt, uncertainty and the travails of growing older and finding your place. but it is also a thing of beauty, and as the blissful outro of its title-track or the breathless, exuberant surge of closer 'grown ocean' demonstrate, at its core lies a tangible sense of wonder and hope.