Grizzly Bear – Shields
Two Weeks, that track from Grizzly Bear’s 2009 release, Veckatimest, plagued me at the height of its popularity. The croony intro and pulsating piano followed me everywhere, it always seemed to be playing on the radio, in shops, in cars and even managed its way into my head when I was feeling adventurous and had my iTunes on shuffle. It was an okay song, but suffered majorly from Overplayed Syndrome, so I have since put Grizzly on the backburner.
A few months ago, I heard a track on the radio and thought it was awesome. It was none other than Grizzly Bear, up to their old tricks, sneaking their music into my ears. I was curious. I thought maybe I had been wrong and disregarded their talent, so I got myself a copy of their 2012 release Shields and fell in love with the ambition and variety that the ten-track album provided. The record borrows from various genres, coating sounds in a dark, organic fuzz. It’s explorative musically and exciting to play all the way through.
The opener, Sleeping Ute takes us on a Zeppelin-esque ride, with rhythmic staccato guitar riffs and dramatic, full orchestral sounds. I love the quiet outro where the chaos is parted with gentle acoustic fingerpicking and delicate vocals that seamlessly lead into the dizzying next track, Speak in Rounds. A particular favourite of mine is A Simple Answer, which has a ragtime, walking beat, and weirdly reminds me of Powderfinger, or Daniel Johns, or something. It shows off Edward Droste’s strong ability as a vocalist and is an uplifting, feel-good tune. Atmospheric songs like Adelma and The Hunt are intertwined amongst the heavier, rockier tracks and provide a calm interlude. There is a singalong number titled Gun Shy, which I think is the most commercial, but it’s no Two Weeks (thank god. Ha).
I have played this album on repeat at home, on my iPod, at my work, in my car. I hope that through my own mass playing I have been able to infect others with this great record.
Review by Carol Bowditch.