It’s a bit ironic that a band named after a ferocious animal produces music that’s decidedly non-threatening. Luckily non-threatening is actually a good thing in this case. Grizzly Bear’s music takes standard music forms and wraps them in a layer of folk harmonies and retro production. The result songs sound familiar, like you’ve heard them a thousand times before, yet they’re impossible to place. They sound like they’ve always existed, yet you’ve somehow never heard them. In other words, they sound like future classic pop songs.
For a band that sounds timeless Grizzly Bear hasn’t been around very long. They released their first album, Horn of Plenty in 2004, to relative critical success. Their big breakthrough was 2006’s Yellow House, which appeared on many sites’ Top 10 lists. Since then they’ve toured with everyone from Radiohead to Feist, played with the LA Philharmonic, and made numerous TV appearances. But their fans have been clamoring for a new album. Tuesday they’ll get it.
Veckatimest is different from Grizzly Bear’s previous efforts. It’s more polished, more consistent. The production is stellar. The songs are tight and well-crafted. The entire album is economical and polished. It sounds like a band that has matured, that knows what it wants, and knows exactly how to get it.
It starts like a straightforward folk song, one from the 60s. Then it kicks into gear, expands. The retro-vibe is still there, but the tenor changes. It’s feeding off of the old, but making it new. It’s exactly what music should be: a synthesizing and expansion of influences.
Staccato guitars against a bed of strings and reverb-drenched vocal harmonies create tension, but not enough to overpower the song’s sleepy feel. It almost sounds like something left on the Pet Sounds cutting room floor.
“Deep Blue Sea”, live on a beach (studio version available on the Dark Was The Night compilation)
“Knife”, on the streets of Paris (on La Blogothèque)