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Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest

by on August 12, 2010

8.3/10

Judging by the singles which were released from Veckatimest, one may begin to think that four-piece band Grizzly Bear has veered off the course of floating, spacey harmonies and entered the realm of radio-ready pop songs. This is not true, however, as Grizzly stays true to their roots and has designed an album that is both familiar and unique.

While there are three albums under the name “Grizzly Bear”, Veckatimest is only the second to include the full band – Ed Droste, Chris Taylor, Christopher Bear and Daniel Rossen. Looking at this, their music seems to take an interesting progression. Horn of Plenty, which was essentially Droste’s solo album, was based around leaving and making space. The music was very minimalist. Yellow House got a little more traditional, as songs like “Knife” found melodies that listeners could jam out to, while songs like “Colorado” still followed the traditional Grizzly formula.

Veckatimest is quite interesting, however. It is very guitar heavy, but the guitar is very delayed and is usually played on a fully-hollow electric. The beautiful harmonies are there, as in “Fine Fow Now”, but they do not crowd the whole mix. The majority of this album actually feels like it leaves more space than the other two. “All We Ask” is a slow song that draws melodies from “Southern Point” and features both Droste and Rossen on vocals. “Cheerleader” is one of the few tracks to feature a traditional drum beat (snare on 2 and 4), and “Ready, Able” uses sparse guitar and its quiet build-up to hook listeners in.

The songs that truly stand-out, however, are the songs that are actually very different from the majority of the album. “Southern Point”, the opening track, is an acoustic piece that flows through minor-third modulations while Rossen and Droste trade off bellowing vocals. The next track, “Two Weeks”, is even more radio friendly  – in fact, it’s on a car commercial. The simple piano melody in F lends itself perfectly to the not-so-simple harmonies that introduce a new part of the song. “While You Wait For the Others” is another obvious highlight on the album. Similar to “Two Weeks”, the chorus takes one line of lyrics and then puts “aaahhhh” in the background, but it seems to work perfectly.

You have to be relaxed to listen to Veckatimest. Very relaxed. And if you aren’t relaxed, you will certainly get relaxed very soon. This album is a great listen, with its beautiful mix of laid-back, minimalist songs and radio-ready anthems. The harmonies that have always been a staple Grizzly Bear are still there, the wonderful musicianship is still there. These guys have made a great record.

-Flow

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