If there’s a downside to creating one of the most innovative, expansive and critically appreciated albums of 2006, Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear can only realize it in 2009. On releasing Veckatimest, their first full-length since the textural, mellow and infinite brilliance of Yellow House, the group is now facing complications.
If there’s a downside to creating one of the most innovative, expansive and critically appreciated albums of 2006, Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear can only realize it in 2009. On releasing Veckatimest, their first full-length since the textural, mellow and infinite brilliance of Yellow House, the group is now facing complications. The problem that arises when listening to Veckatimest is that one makes an inevitable comparison, which is that of a little brother’s arrogance to his subdued, smarter, more complex older brother.
Let’s get this out of the way then: Veckatimest is not Yellow House. The latter is no small achievement; it’s a textural exploration that defies genre while feeling at once intimate and entirely far out. The former is a pop album, and a pretty good one at that.
What Grizzly Bear has achieved in both albums, and even in the whimsy of 2007’s Friend EP, is a depth of sonic landscape that rewards listeners on both the first and 19th listen.
If the critical consensus over Grizzly Bear seems overzealous, it’s only due to the rare chance that a band can be smart, aesthetically available, artistically relevant and catchy as a motherfucker. Grizzly Bear might at first seem subtle, but remember that still waters run deep.
Throw in some serious vocal chops—I’m talking Beach Boys harmonies here—and you have a band worth paying attention to. If you’re one of the smart ones that already has tickets for the show at the Aladdin this weekend (sold out already, unfortunately), you’ll witness firsthand the goldenness of these guys’ pipes.
This is a real band. Remember what those are like? They don’t have an invisible bass player or a pre-recorded horn section, and although you’ll wonder how four dudes can evoke an entire Mormon choir, you’ll also find there’s no loop backing up the boys’ onstage show.
Miss Brooklyn’s finest will be here in Portland, but you can also find them at this weekend’s Sasquatch! festival. It will take some presence of mind to transcend your sunburn and resentment toward that empty $13 can of PBR, but Grizzly Bear’s choral atmospheres might be just what your fried brain and nose need.
With Veckatimest, Grizzly Bear might be doing the Feist-style crossover thing, going from indie superstars to regular-old superstars. On the other hand, this latest work has enough tricks up its sleeve to make one think it’s the honest effort of artistic minded popsters with vocals to seduce the best of us.
It’s hard to ignore the differences between their last two proper albums, but that has more to do with Yellow House‘s brilliance than it does with any shortcomings of Veckatimest. And live, Grizzly Bear has no shortcomings at all.