Grizzly Bear, Veckatimest

grizzlybear-veckatimestGrizzly Bear is currently enjoying indie darling status – it is a band that is unanimously being lauded for its brilliance by The New York Times and other purveyors of taste. The genius of some bands can be overestimated and the hype of the blogosphere can get out of hand. But in this case they are onto something.

Veckatimest is Grizzly Bear’s third full length album and is it’s most accessible yet. Horn of Plenty and Yellow House were much more experimental and lacked cohesion, they’re untraditional song structures are tough to appreciate. You don‘t have to try nearly as hard on this one – it is more palatable with tighter song structures and dabbles less in the loose and meandering arrangements of the other albums.

“Two Weeks” is a stand out track with Ed Droste taking lead vocals – he has a mid-range vibrato that at times sounds like a combination of Roy Orbison and Brian Wilson. Droste shares lead vocals with Daniel Rossen – Rossen provides a lighter voice that is a good compliment to Droste’s mid range.

The whole band contributes vocals and they harmonize on many songs as they layer all their voices together. The untraditional approach to song writing and composing isn’t for everyone – nevertheless if you give it a chance the brilliance of the album will eventually reveal itself. Warning: this is not for the impatient listener – it is an acquired taste. Some songs follow a more conventional set of rules while others are experimental and looser constructions. There is a lot of highly technical song crafting as the band is able to create hauntingly beautiful sounds though their inventive arrangements of layered sounds and vocals highlighted by angular chords that keep you off balance.

There are tracks that are way out there like “Dory” and “Hold Still” which are more sound experiments than songs – “Cheerleader” and “All We Ask” are more easily digested. You might criticize them for being pretentious and inaccessible but that would be unfair. The music is made with a genuine intention – a guileless exploration of unknown realms. They are courageous in their journey into the unfamiliar and this allows them to make unique music.

Don’t go into this album expecting catchy sing-along’s. This is dense and complex stuff. It delivers surprise after surprise challenging you at each step. But it also rewards you – you just have to give it the time.

By Shaun Flagg


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