Shields - Grizzly Bear
Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. Shields not only matches its predecessor in Grizzly Bear's back catalogue, but it exceeds it.
  2. Sep 17, 2012
    80
    While it's not as obviously big a statement as Veckatimest was, Shields is plenty ambitious in its own right, and its complexity demands and rewards patient listening.
  3. 90
    For how uncharacteristic it might seem for a band whose greatest gift, all along, was nuance, this louder take suits the band brilliantly.
  4. Oct 25, 2012
    78
    More than anything, Shields feels like a deliberate maturation of Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, trading adolescent angst for an older disillusion and heartbreak. The same tension exists between the two, especially in swelling closers "Half Gate" and "Sun in Your Eyes," yet here, they're more intricately expressed and controlled.
  5. Oct 2, 2012
    80
    Shields pushes and prods at musical boundaries in a similar way to Talk Talk's 1986 masterpiece, The Colour of Spring.
  6. Shields is both well-mannered and demanding, subdued but always bubbling under the surface.
  7. Sep 18, 2012
    80
    Grizzly Bear has learned not to stress over its craft, and Shields feels all the more fresh as a result.
  8. Sep 14, 2012
    80
    Shields is an engrossing, beautiful work which could only come from Grizzly Bear, and only at this point in their career.
  9. 90
    Shields growls and purrs in ways Grizzly Bear has never before.
  10. 90
    Although Veckatimest might be more of an emotionally-driven album, Shields continues to showcase a band that is somehow--as good as they currently are--simply getting better and better, regardless of the location, the circumstances, regardless of the schedules.
  11. Sep 14, 2012
    80
    It's a warm-blooded record, beholden to analogue gear and flawless mastering--one destined to fit snugly on a turntable rather than to live as ones and zeros on your iPod.
  12. Sep 18, 2012
    60
    It's a shame to find Grizzly Bear spinning their wheels.
  13. Sep 18, 2012
    86
    Here, the band has returned from the cold with a tight, extraordinary album that is lush and satisfying--yet still in the corners just a little bit sad.
  14. Oct 17, 2012
    80
    An organic expression of the beauty that can be found in the fragile, arbitrary nature of communication. [No. 92, p.52]
  15. Sep 19, 2012
    80
    This brilliant, complex and surprising piece proves to be no exercise in getting to know them better. [Oct 2012, p.82]
  16. Sep 17, 2012
    90
    Shields is full of both genuine surprises and moments of transcendent beauty.
  17. 70
    For all the strange twists and turns, the rich layers and dark beauty to be found, nothing here grabs you and sets up home in your heart like 'Veckatimest' did.
  18. Sep 24, 2012
    70
    Shields is undeniably tuneful, and you could even say that it's the perfect record to build that swelling momentum, but it's also detached and emotionally destitute.
  19. Sep 20, 2012
    60
    Shields is not going to grab you, but it rewards patience.
  20. Sep 18, 2012
    84
    Though at time reaching heavenly heights, Shields is, as the name suggests, a heavy, protected album, stuffy with an ennui particular to the young and gifted. It's evidence that Grizzly Bear may be one of the great bands of their generation--if only they'd smile a little more.
  21. Sep 17, 2012
    91
    While there's no question that Grizzly Bear's last two records have sounded gorgeous, critics of the band have wondered if that's enough. Shields, the band's fourth and most compositionally adventurous record, should put those concerns to bed.
  22. Sep 19, 2012
    90
    [Shields is] an album that unveils deeper levels of emotional impact and aesthetic dimension for a band that continues to challenge and captivate in ways that are entirely their own.
  23. Sep 17, 2012
    75
    Conservative, instead, describes Shields: Veckatimest authorized it to be far bolder. You yearn for what could've been.
  24. Sep 13, 2012
    80
    Shields is part spiralling indie rock, part wistful '60s pop. [Oct 2012, p.102]
  25. Sep 18, 2012
    80
    With Shields, they still sound like Radiohead at a Buddhist retreat, but the songs are more muscular, increasingly driven by drummer Christopher Bear's innate swing.
  26. Sep 14, 2012
    60
    Pretty but formless, Shields plays like a calculated retreat into something altogether indistinct and inconsequential.
  27. Sep 19, 2012
    80
    [A] beautiful if vague fourth studio album.
  28. Nov 30, 2012
    100
    It's the construction of it all that's so perfect: that the music can follow, this time, but still be what Grizzly Bear are all about.
  29. Sep 18, 2012
    91
    On an album that touches repeatedly on the barriers people build between each other, the members of Grizzly Bear have forged further ahead into sweet synchronicity.
  30. Sep 19, 2012
    88
    On Shields, they achieve a fluid synthesis: Rossen and Droste still share vocal duties, but they often tag-team the same track, trading off lines and writing melodies for one another's voices. Their styles coalesce so smoothly, it's often difficult to tell where one singer-songwriter starts and the other ends.
  31. Sep 14, 2012
    80
    The record overflows with the tell-tale nuances of a band who have learnt how to translate grandiosity into something more restrained, yet no less forceful.
  32. Sep 13, 2012
    80
    It sounds as if Grizzly Bear have spent their time away digging out the emotions that sometimes get buried beneath the technical fireworks. Speak in Rounds builds to a climax that – to use a phrase not much associated with Grizzly Bear – rocks, and furthermore rocks in a viscerally thrilling manner.
  33. Sep 17, 2012
    60
    It's more likely, though, that Shields is a grower.
  34. Sep 19, 2012
    70
    This is still a Grizzly Bear record, but thanks to a spin through the grinder of maturity, it's also now a Grizzly Bear that know when to hold back or let things flow in order to create an LP that connects emotionally. This was the one thing that its impressive but more technically minded predecessors often lacked.
  35. Sep 14, 2012
    80
    If their painstaking studiocraft has in the past seemed over-refined or even fussy, here they've discovered a new wildness, a liberating sense of drama. [Oct 2012, p.70]
  36. Sep 13, 2012
    85
    The album is filled with wonderful little moments that add up to create a remarkable whole. [Aug/Sep 2012, p.111]
User Score
8.7

Universal acclaim- based on 126 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. Dec 31, 2012
    10
    Grizzly Bear's great effort has come. First hearing this, it felt a bit different, but with elements from their previous album, their previous album, this is a superb 10-track album worth buying. Tracks to listen to: Yet Again, Sun In Your Eyes and Gun-Shy. Full Review »
  2. Oct 28, 2012
    5
    I want to love Grizzly Bear. I really do. If growing a beard, putting on skinny jeans, and wearing a toque with a pair of Ray Bans will make the supposed charm of Grizzly Bear make more sense to me, I'm willing to try. But as the previous sentence indicates, I'm tempted to dismiss them as the overrated hipster darlings of a Pitchfork review. And I saw them at Bonnaroo (after a week without shaving), and - to be brutally honest - I was bored. I didn't think their music translated live. I'm willing to give "growers" time to grow, but with repeated listens of this album, I can honestly say it does not grab me. Moments here and there flirt with a beautiful melody that is never quit there, and I'm annoyed with Grizzly Bear in the same way I am with Radiohead. It's as if preventing a melody from going where it feels like it is supposed to go is some new form of 'high art" that I'm not hipster enough to "get." A song like "A Simple Answer" was among the few that grabbed me first listen, but even it never manages to boil beyond a simmer, and a true satisfying moment seems annoyingly out of reach. All in all, I dismiss Grizzly Bear as among the most overrated indie acts out there (however, no where near Bon Iver in that regard). At times pretty and interesting, ultimately - they are pretty damn boring (very much like Bon Iver). Maybe your either a Fleet Foxes kind of person or a Grizzly Bear kind of person. I'll take real melodies and real playing with real purpose any day. Full Review »
  3. Sep 19, 2012
    10
    For me, the efforts of this band cannot be downplayed or diminished. They are truly devoted to continual improvement, and this album is a testament to their creative capacity as well as their devotion to constantly make themselves better as a band. I might have listened to opener "Sleeping Ute" 10 times before it struck me what it is (or could be) all about, and the resonance it carried: Rossen, in a contented relationship, far gone, though his partner sleeps "nearer to me [him]" and if he could continue to lie still as that gray hill, he could remain in the relationship, but at a loss; at the sacrifice of opportunities to have "a long day, wandering free". And though he lives to see her face (read, possibly, superficial beauty) and hates to see her go (even though he'll be the one doing the leaving), in spite of comfort, he knows a life awaits him beyond, perhaps through the leaves, perhaps through the smoke that he witnesses so saliently as he lies collapsed on the stone he was "delivered" to in dream to contemplate the vagary (or perchance evolving change) of his present situation. Being true to himself, he knows no other way than to "walk on out the door" because he can't help himself. Previously, it was just a grand rocker with a second movement that expresses perhaps perfectly the calmness and clearness he finds on that rock. Yes, perhaps an overanalysis of one song on the album, but my experience with it speaks to the same effect all 10 songs on this album deliver. Some have called it a grower, but like the best GB songs, it opens up on first listen, then bouquets on repeated listens, just as a fine beloved wine is quaffable at first blush, and becomes something else towards the end of the second glass. The integrity of this effort cannot be diminished, and I'm cautiously optimistic that the publications that rated it with a high enough mark will revisit their sentiments come December, when the best-of lists are released and the finest album of the year is hailed. Sure, that Frank Ocean album...what was it called...was great at first listen, but will it rank the finest album of the year? It ought not to, for while it is an inspired effort, it is also limited by its lack of layers, and its lack of value on repeated listens. There is so much to peel back on Shields, and while I am encouraged by the initial glowing reviews, I believe we have to put all in perspective to realize the sheer strength of this album, given the great expectations that surely would have been placed upon it. It is a Herculean labour to follow up a stellar album like Veckatimest, and the band pulled through, by being perfectionistic, by striving for higher ground, and achieving it. Despite my love for Half Gate, Yet Again and a few other standouts on the album, as a music lover with a deep interest in jazz (and a deep contempt of jazz that aspires to be rock -- oh how many failed attempts that has rendered), Grizzly Bear actually pulled it off with What's Wrong. Listen to the tonal complexity. Listen to the chords. Listen to that Horace Silveresque coda. And recall that the track still embodies all of rock's core competencies, and nothing but amazement and reverie ought to befall. If MetaCritic users could do decimals (unless there's something I'm missing), I would put this at a 9.6 or 9.7 given there are slight imperfections (don't even get me started on MBDTF, which would have earned a great ranking, but was not inherently perfect), but I have to round up, I guess :) Regardless, it might not be for everyone, but musically, lyrically, it is brilliant and a masterpiece. Good work, guys. Can't believe this all began with Droste recording tracks simply "for friends" in his mother's place. Full Review »