REVIEW: Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

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Grizzly Bear's 2006 record, Yellow House, was as ethereal as a shaft of sunlight piercing through a rusty window. It's pretty hard to follow up that kind of image. And this time around, the boys of da Bear manage to take their sound and put it a little harder on the ground. Veckatimest is the operatic version of folk music that it's been willing to take for years. Instead of pushing into the lyrical realm built by Dylan, Grizzly Bear delves into musical territory that evokes and outdoes the strongest worded image.

Wagner thought music was the greatest of the arts because of it's ability to elicit a genuine emotional response. And there's ways that music speaks to us and draws from us emotions that a lot of other types of art can't. Mostly because of it's non-linguistic communication. Well, apologies to Wagner, but Grizzly Bear turns words into music. Their fracturing/ed choral harmonies are tied to what seems like existential angst. "We're all faltering," the crew croons on "Fine for Now" - an anthem of eroding while putting up with bullshit. That's perhaps the strongest growth between this record and Yellow House. House erred on the side of atmosphere, on this record the atmosphere seems to float from the emotional evokation of the songs.

Basically, it's better honed songwriting. The sublime "Two Weeks" shows that right off -- dropping a 21st century jazz standard in the patchwork of Grizzly Bear's music. And the musical styles that are being brought up, homaged, used, and invented just keep coming. But, they don't show up to show off. They show up as a natural, organic expression of the song. I argue pretty often that The White Album is the best one of The Beatles, becuase it sees the band use so many different forms, as if there were a perfect genre for each song. Veckatimest, may well be Grizzly Bear's White Album, ever evolving but out of love for the song, not for the sake of the song writing. This album is a keeper. And one of the best of the year.

1 comment:

  1. great review! it's pretty impressive when a band can live up to (or at least come close) to all the hype...