In hindsight, 2012 was the twilight of the blogosphere and rock music boom. New rap and R&B groups like Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, A$AP Rocky, and The Weeknd—not to mention superstars like Kanye West and Drake—fascinated audiences who have traditionally created new indie rock bands. A rising tide of anarchism, the belief that all music deserves a fair shot and that many long-standing critical prejudices are rooted in various forms of prejudice, has caused many so-called arrogants to approach Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and the artists far less. Great of these. In the same spirit (or in the hopes of getting their big break), quite a few underground musicians have been trying to incorporate these historically most common sounds into their own music. Spotify and its algorithms are shifting consumers’ focus from buying to streaming, destabilizing the already precarious economic situation of indie musicians and replacing the music discovery role of websites like this one – which is already fading (in part thanks to giants boosting the online advertising industry). ) and were increasingly focusing on the aforementioned pop stars.
If anyone understands how fragile an entire ecosystem is, it’s Grizzly Bear. The Brooklyn band’s baroque blend of psychedelic rock, pop and folk had made them independent listeners in the latter half of the 2000s, culminating in crossover success in 2009. Vekkatimest and her uncharacteristically bright and straightforward single, “Two Weeks” that hits the piano. At the turn of the decade, Grizzly Bear enjoyed the spoils of this success, but it wasn’t who – which Lots of spoils. In the weeks leading up to Vekkatimest Follow the band Discuss their financial situation Impressively transparent New York The magazine’s profile is full of quotes like “bands are appearing much bigger than they are now, because no one is buying records.” Apparently, Jay-Z and Beyoncé attending one of your shows aren’t paying the bills, and in the long run, neither is licensing your song for a commercial. But if Grizzly Bear is nearing the end of their glory years, they’ve made the most of the spotlight while they’re getting it.
shieldswhich was released 10 years ago this Sunday, far from the release of centipede HzShrinking is a weird scene along the lines of, but it’s also not the kind of album you shoot when you’re trying to hit the radio. “Most of this recording, for example, is desperately trying to do the opposite,” guitarist and co-leader Daniel Rossen. Tell me earlier this year. Rosen noted how much the hype surrounding Grizzly Bear affected the band’s path, intensifying the inner push and pull between the perceived expectations of going pop and the underlying desire to continue writing thick, amplified material that paid little attention to mainstream notions of accessibility. . “That was another, bigger conversation we were having,” Rosen continued. “But I think it was kind of a victory at the time to do that, to push for a record that was more challenging and exotic at that moment.”
It was really a victory. shields Grizzly Bear remains my favorite album, in part because of how often those intricate tracks and strong textures make it sound like rock ‘n’ roll. The winding leather wind instrument on Rossen’s opening “Sleeping Ute” is pure Led Zeppelin. “Speak In Rounds”—with its solid vocal backbone, spiky but stereoscopic lead guitar, and surprising brass finish—hits like former Radiohead tour mates about in the rainbow. Droste’s raucous “Again” features more six-string feats and more great action from percussion department Chris Beer and Chris Taylor, as well as vocal harmonies that transform from the fictional Beach Boys to something more buoyant and dangerous on the lines of Brooklyn Yeasayer’s peers. It’s the sexiest and most instant song on the album, albeit ending with an explosion of guitar noise.
At this point, we are approaching the halfway point, and shields It doesn’t sound like the case of anti-trade self-sabotage that Rosen was referring to. Despite the apparent lack of a “Two Weeks” sequel, those first few songs struck me as some of the most attractive and accurate in the Grizzly Bear catalog; The music only picks its nose up at the mainstream, meaning it focuses on a tangle of guitars at a time when sparkling synths and other pop flairs were on the rise. Okay, so he also sees Drust and Rosen rejecting easily digestible lyrics and straightforward rhythms in favor of open poetry, funky rhythms, and unconventional time signatures. Until now shields He weaves in those abstract concepts and complex sounds so subtly that they never undermine the great songwriting at the heart of the album.
As we move towards the center of the tracking list, shields It gets quieter and weirder, and Rosen’s sense that the band was resisting expectations of crossover makes more sense. But until then, the songs are punctuated by broad pessimistic tracks like piano-crawl “The Hunt” and jazz “What Wrong” with a skip in their stride. “Simple Answer” is riding fast groove as Haim’s percussion (exactly the kind of band they were rocking in early 2010) would soon borrow from Eagles for “The Wire.” The blurry “Gun-Shy” is the rare Grizzly Bear song you can shake your hips at. None of these songs jump to you like, say, Passion Pit, but they don’t exactly work overtime to intimidate less sophisticated listeners. Simply put, Grizzly Bears seem to be their best selves, no matter how that affects focus groups.
In the end, shields Sides with art over pop on a pair of epics that close the album in a breathtaking fashion. “Half Gate,” one of many songs featuring lead vocals from both Droste and Rossen, begins on an elegant orchestral tune and moves on to swallowing the band with a sharp noise. Such a wonderful rattling would have made a great finale had it not been for Rosen’s stunning seven-minute movie “Sun In Your Eyes,” the sound of roomy pop music going nuclear. It’s a song that taps into Grizzly Bear’s full arsenal, alternating between periods of near silence and shocking splendor. Amid a final movement that feels like a warzone tainted by bass bombs, Rosen leaves a farewell befitting all that grandeur: “So bright, so long / I’ll never come back.”
This wasn’t entirely accurate with respect to Grizzly Bear, but in spirit it was true. The band took five years to follow shields with painted ruins, a solid album that might have received a more enthusiastic reception if it had been released at a different point in the band’s arc. By 2017, the zeitgeist had completely moved on, and the members of Grizzly Bear were aging at a point in life when many people would prefer settling down. He tells us that after a decade of all this worrying about the band’s financial future, the band opted for an extended hiatus rather than making a living on the road in the post-hype. If they come back one day, whether it’s with new music or just playing some shows, they deserve to be celebrated as one of the best and most amazing bands of their era. Until then, we can remember shields Like the masterpiece they snuck before the clock ran out in their 15 minutes.