Artist: Grizzly Bear
While some critics couldn’t build pedestals high enough to place Grizzly Bear’s 2009 effort, “Veckatimest,” I was a lone tree in the woods falling over saying, “Is this it?”
“Veckatimest” was languid, sleepy and directionless. Only “Two Weeks,” with a rhythm recast from Dr. Dre’s “Still D.R.E.” for the hipster set, stood out.
That all changes with “Shields,” the Brooklyn, N.Y., band’s most recent offering. It marks the moment where Grizzly Bear’s efforts meet with a more accessible sensibility. “Shields” sings to us from the edge of the forest rather than lost in the house where the “Blair Witch” kids vanished.
Where “Veckatimest” tracks would meander aimlessly, “Shields” songs take shape and bloom. “A Simple Answer” doesn’t offer one, but it does glide on a piano lick that both informs and nudges the track forward. “Sleeping Ute,” the dynamite first single, shows the band’s newly discovered taste for texture and song progression.
There’s isolation and desperation in “Shields,” too: “When I try to face you, you’re walking away,” sings Ed Droste in “Gun-Shy.”
Maybe “Veckatimest” didn’t deserve the pedestals, but in its layered ambition, “Shields” is certainly a lot closer.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.