Monday, June 15, 2009

Grizzly Bear, Veckatimest

A band can have all the talent in the world, but if it can't break through its own majestic bubble to meet the rest of us at least halfway, all bets are off. It would be like putting a brilliant professor with no teaching skills in a classroom; that's just not going to be a fun class for anyone.

Grizzly Bear have earned critical praise in the indie rock world for their first full-length, 2006’s Yellow House. For me, Yellow House is pretty but boring. While original and technically impressive, it plays like a gorgeous haunted house without the thrills, and without lasting appeal.

On the other hand, Veckatimest is the dream sophomore breakout album we knew Grizzly Bear was capable of. In its entirety, Veckatimest glides along from break to bridge with Grizzly Bear’s trademark ghostly choirboy harmonies leading the way. What Yellow House lacked in structure, Veckatimest more than makes up for with songs that progress fluidly to treat the ear and imagination.

Album opener "Southern Point" starts out calmly enough before bursting out into a string-heavy high-speed chase of a chorus. "Two Weeks" follows, their first single and a standout track. "Would you always / Maybe sometimes / Make it easy? / Take your time," lead singer Edward Droste asks in the chorus over his band mates' jumping falsetto vocals and a beat that jumps with it.

Fun, driving drumbeats are central to many songs on Veckatimest including more uptempo tracks such as "Cheerleader," "While You Wait for the Others" (current favorite), "About Face" and "I Live with You," while "Ready, Able" slips into a dizzying rhythmic coma to end with Droste on repeat in a daze of guilt: “They go, we go / I want you to know / what I did, I did…." When the drums are subdued, the band ups the eerie factor Yellow House-style on tracks such as "Dory" and album closer "Foreground."

A sometimes dark, sometimes light, and always exciting ride, Veckatimest is Grizzly Bear's most accessible and versatile effort yet. While these guys will continue to excite critics, their odd brand of elaborate pop rock on Veckatimest will beckon to music fans from other walks to come see what the fuss is about. Most are bound to find something to like here.

- Jessy Bartlett

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think Veckatimest is just as boring as Yellow House.