Monday, September 24, 2012

Album Review: Grizzly Bear - 'Shields'

It has been a notable couple of months for albums from Brooklyn – Yeasayer’s ‘Fragrant Hours’ and Dirty Projector’s ‘Swing Lo Magellan’ among them – but the shining jewel among them has got to be Grizzly Bear’s ‘Shields’. It doesn’t have the standout songs of its predecessor ‘Veckitamest’ (e.g. ‘Two Weeks’, ‘While You Wait For The Others’). However, it’s possibly a more solid album, both in consistency and tone; personally I was less enamoured with the more insubstantial tracks on their last album such as ‘Dory’. ‘A Simple Answer’ and ‘Gun-Shy’ might be the closest the album has to ‘hits’; the former, with its assertive piano chords, has probably the band’s most infectious chorus to date (yes, even more so than ‘Two Weeks’), while the latter drifts along dreamily with its overlapping vocals. By contrast, opener ‘Sleeping Ute’ and ‘Yet Again’ are driven along by a strong, expansive guitar sound that even if it doesn’t quite rock, it at least sharply lets you know it’s around. Penultimate track ‘Half Gate’ starts off by setting up its cabin and axe next to the Fleet Foxes, before erupting in a pounding, cavernous chorus that’s the closest the band has come to sounding like its namesake yet. Finally, Grizzly Bear try their hand at the epic closing track on ‘Sun In Your Eyes’, which is stretched out further than an Arctic sunrise. With ‘Shields’, Grizzly Bear have shown they can produce more than a very pleasant background suite, and this substantial follow-up should put them into the indie big leagues.    

No comments: