Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 23:10
The psych-pop quartet from Brooklyn, Grizzly Bear, is back after three years of silence, with its new album, Shields, which is well worth the wait.
In Shields, the band’s excruciatingly precise style gets a little rough around the edges. The album starts off with “Sleeping Ute,” which leads off with bluesy guitar that elevates into an audio storm. Waves of instruments crash into each other and booms of thunder eventually ease into a melodic calm at the end.
“What’s Wrong” highlights the vocal harmonizing that the band is known for before the members’ voices go silent and the song wanders off instrumentally into a haze of piano, cymbal, and trumpet. In comparison, “The Hunt” lingers at a languid pace with crawling piano, drawn-out guitar, and vocals reminiscent of Thom Yorke of Radiohead.
Shields is Grizzly Bear’s most collaborative album. The band layered idea on top of idea, taking up to six months before finally seeing the shape of a song. And each member of the band was involved in the composition of every song. The ethereal vocals lead the listener through the sometimes tumultuous, sometimes drifting, and sometimes spacey album.
Grizzly Bear aims to create albums that each member of the band is happy with. Commercial success has never been its focus and that is apparent on Shields. Its complicated and experimental sound takes work to appreciate, but each time the listener presses play they will fall deeper and deeper into Shields and bit by bit it will grab hold of them.