Fans of the Seattle folk-rock band Fleet Foxes have been waiting a long time for the follow-up album to their critically-acclaimed debut, which was full of upbeat melodic folk songs and stunning pop harmonies. The wait is over and while Helplessness Blues is less bright and sunny, it’s more complex and powerful, making it a perfect next step. The songs are lyrically beautiful and the band’s impressive harmonies give off the same pastoral feel as before, but there are also hints of societal concern and break-up anger that give the album weight and depth. The band’s ability to craft layered songs has grown here, offering much more than a simple guitar strum and four-part harmony, and so has frontman Robin Pecknold’s songwriting, which has the descriptive feel of an era gone-by. The guitar strum in “Sim Sala Bim” and the anthem-like pondering of “Helplessness Blues” give this album a new energy while quieter songs like “Blue Spotted Tail” and “Montezuma” stay true to the band’s original simple strengths. Fans will definitely not be disappointed and we’re sure critics will be touting this record as one of the best of the year. The album is available for streaming over at NPR First Listen or watch the band perform “Sim Sala Bim” in the video below.