Nov 19, 2012Although 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.
Oct 25, 2012More 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.
Mar 5, 2013If there is something that identifies the band Grizzly Bear (besides sweating right?) Is that there seems to have fun with their 'music, something that I think will surprise fans, because the adjectives that best define it are: dense ,complex and or ambitious. is a band that is often easier to admire than just listen and love. They achieved a work of art and would be an insult not to separate each of the layers of music that had been carefully placed by the band.
Shields continues the move toward more digestible sounds without the need to get a degree in pure mathematics from Harvard. Influences that have been removed from the world of Ed Droste atmospheric side jazzoso towards Daniel Rossen has used in his side project Department of Eagles, though still unusual compositions and instrumentation with unconventional times.
The band is not reinventing but expands its proposal without losing the essence. With a beautiful production, with good details, arrangements and textures worthy of a Renaissance chapel, have developed a sound that could be defined as Pop Ambient, without compromising his artistic vision or whatever you call it.
Definitely one of the best albums of 2012.… Expand
Sep 24, 2012Shields is Grizzly Bear's fourth studio album and follow-up to their critically-acclaimed Veckatimest, which is among my top ten favorite albums and holds a score of 85/100 here on Metacritic.
This album is much more raw and exposed, less perfect (intentionally) than Veckatimest. I would be stoked, therefore, to see it performed live. Shields brims with grit and energy, much unlike its careful, thought-provoking predecessor. This is Physical Graffiti after Houses of the Holy.
Shields feels much more collaborative than any of the previous albums. Whereas on other albums, it is clear which songs were written by Daniel Rossen and which by Ed Droste, it is not so distinct this time around. While each track's vocalist probably gives it away, there is a stylistic molding that makes Grizzly Bear feel more like a cohesive band. Ed sings tracks full of Daniel's broken rhythms, and Dan seems to have taken a slightly more melodic approach to songwriting. These guys are rubbing off on one another, which is a pleasure to hear.
The album opens with "Sleeping Ute," a slightly aggressive, largely guitar-driven track, clearly written by Dan Rossen. It reminds me a ton of "Southern Point," the opener on Veckatimest. And it's an important song, because it sets the tone for the album. Rossen sounds utterly confused, hesitant to hold on to something he loves out of an arbitrary desire for independence. These feelings are amplified by the juxtaposition of his tentative vocal over an ever-exploding backdrop of bass and drums. "And I live to see your face, And I hate to see you go, But I know no other way, Than straight on out the door. And I can't help myself."
"Speaking Rounds" follows the mellow close of "Ute" with a low-key but powerful opening. It then builds rather quickly to a surprising burst of energy, keeping this album moving forward rather than slowing it down. They bring in all the players here: plenty of background vocals, a horn section and a choir, bass fills and percussive jangle. It really starts to pop with authority, until the timer on the microwave is up and the pops start to dwindle. That's "Adelma": purely transitional, but entirely necessary to bridge the gap between "Rounds" and "Yet Again." It sets us back down from the high of "Rounds" so that we can appreciate the explosion of the album's masterpiece.
Possibly my favorite Grizzly Bear track to date, "Yet Again" features Droste's most impressive and emotional vocal, better even than "Ready, Able," my favorite song off Veckatimest. But what is so great about this track is that, while beautiful and contemplative, it is driven ever forward by Chris Bear's percussive work. The orchestration is full, and the rhythms intertwine with a complexity that we have not yet seen from the band. The track comes to an epic close while Grizzly grooves on a heavy, disgruntled mess resembling the song's earlier motivations. I'm in disbelief.
The next stretch of the album most closely resembles Veckatimest. A slow burner called "The Hunt" precedes "A Simple Answer," which is aptly named. And "What's Wrong" sounds like it could be a bonus track on the previous album.
The next song, "gun-shy," is one of the catchiest on the album, which I didn't notice until I started singing it to myself on the streets and wondered, "what song is this?" It wasn't until then that I took the album for a second listen (this number has now neared fifteen, no joke) and realized that "gun-shy" is a masterwork of serenity. It's almost bubbly, a satirical introspective on the game of love. "Half Gate" is a powerhouse. It's the hesitant uplifter, the bridge reaching toward a conclusion that may or may not be on the other side.
As the title suggests, "Sun in Your Eyes" is sort of that conclusion. Shields is an album about the complications of personal relationships. It's about the barriers we put between ourselves and other people, or between ourselves and our desires. We don't enjoy putting up walls; we wish we didn't have to, but we just do it, for reasons we can't really explain. We know we want something different, but we don't know what it is; it always seems to be whatever we don't currently have. "Sun in Your Eyes" is a complicated way of moving on. There's an uncertainty involved in moving toward the sun. The other side could be different, or it might be the same. You'll never know because the damn sun hurts your eyes. "So bright, so long, I'm never coming back."
For more reviews on movies, TV, and music, see my blog at kofdrops.blogspot.com.… Expand
Dec 20, 2012Perhaps I'm not sophisticated enough, but I just don't always get what they want to say in their songs. They are great musicians and fantastic at expressing themselves, however I don't always understand the meanings of the songs and/or the analogies. But when I get that, it's truly awesome! It's a stunning and chilling kind of music and it's not wrongly named as one of the best CDs in the year 2012 on many critics' lists. A strong album, you definitely should check it out.… Expand
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