New Heights for Grizzly Bear

VeckatimestGrizzly Bear: Veckatimest (Warp)

Grizzly Bear's highly anticipated album Veckatimest is finally out. After an unfinished version leaked in March, I, fearing a false impression of the new songs, decided to wait for the official release. Singer Ed Droste accepted the leak with understanding; on Twitter he remarked that the leak would happen sooner or later, but that he wished the tracks were of better quality.

The album marks a new, mature height in the band's songwriting and composition. The songs are rich and full and develop with each listen -- an album that is compelling on first listen, but which truly deserves regular rotation. The vocals stand out more than anything. All four members of the band sing and, drawing on choral traditions, some songs take off under soaring layers of falsetto. After the instantly engaging piano intro on the single, "Two Weeks," the voices come in with a united "ohh-ohh-ohhhh." Christopher Bear slams the crash and starts a light drum roll. Then he's playing a staggered backbeat. Christopher Bear sounds fantastic on drums. His sound is complex but reserved. Nothing is flashy or ostentatious, much like the album itself.

Nothing on the album moves very quickly, either. Most of the songs are over four minutes long, and nothing has a pulsing tempo. The songs do not take you forward; they take you up. Bassist Chris Taylor lends layers of woodwinds to the building guitars, voices, and percussion. The band even worked with a youth choir and string quartet for many tracks. "Cheerleader" offers a familiar Grizzly Bear style of bass guitar riffing, but grows with the addition of the youth choir and later with Bear's tom-tom percussion in the last minute of the song. Beginning simply with vocal melodies, "Fine for Now," the most powerful song on the album, builds to crescendos of cymbal crashes and intense guitar tremolos. The builds and layering offer the biggest signs of Grizzly Bear's growth since the also brilliant Yellow House.

The interplay between singers Daniel Rossen and Ed Droste is wonderful. Rossen's brassier voice and distinct reverbed-out guitar are very particular, but complement Droste's clean, sustained style. I am glad to see that Rossen brought to Veckatimest so much of the reverb that made the electric version of "Little Brother" from the Friend EP so good. "While You Wait for the Others" is a perfect display of Rossen's guitar-led verse with a Droste "ooh" chorus.

Veckatimest is a genre-blending cascade of atmospheric bliss and skilled songwriting. It is one of the best new albums I've heard this year. The release of Veckatimest and the Dirty Projectors' Bitte Orca in the past two weeks are a testament to the innovative sounds in indie rock emerging from Brooklyn today. - Rian Rooney

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Mr. Rooney is a student at Columbia University and has worked for the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, WBAR radio, and Showpaper.

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