12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Every day, I spend it with you,
This review is from: Yellow House (Audio CD)
Grizzly Bear have been around for awhile, but "Yellow House" is their first album as a complete, cohesive quartet band. And it's a stunning piece of work, layering together ethereal freakfolk and gentle rock'n'roll into an eerily earthy sound -- it's like listening to a folk band made up of ghosts.
It opens with a run-through of the instrumentation -- a flute smoothing out into a wobbly violin, and some tinny piano. After a moment of silence, the band slips into "Easier," with its folky banjo/guitar melody wrapped in gentle shimmering synth. And the lyrics hint at broken houses and broken loves: "I know, I know, the doors won't close/the pipes all froze/just let it go...let's recreate an easier time/because I still can't find you."
They follow it up with an earthier song, "Lullabye," which meanders uncertainly through mostly acoustic territory, but with the occasional synthy chime. The songs that follow are in this mold -- ghostly rockers and fizzly, windy ballads. Each one starts off simple and slow, but builds up into atmospheric and powerful pieces of work.
If you just hear a sample or skip through it, "Yellow House" sounds like your basic folk-rock album. Not much to listen to. But listen to some of the songs in their entirety, and the beauty of their music really starts to stick out -- it's sort of glitchy shimmery freakfolk psychedelica, with a bit of lo-fi indie-rock thrown in for good measure.
They have a dud every now and then -- the first halves of "On a Neck, On a Spit" and "Reprise" are too banjoey and straightforward to fit in. However, the rest of the time they craft their music exquisitely -- the instrumentation and vocals are layered together into hypnotic swirls, sometimes fading out to give it that ghostly sound.
The instrumentation itself is a beautiful blend of all sorts of instruments -- some straightforward guitar and restrained banjo, some echoing glockenspiel and a soft flute. And the entire album is shrouded in dark, unearthly synth from Chris Taylor, ranging from glitches to wavers, misty fuzz to a twittering sound like a moth's wings.
All four members contribute their vocals, and their intertwined, mournful voices are absolutely stunning. They could sing just about anything and make it sound pretty -- in fact, "Colorado" is mostly made up of mournful calls of the title word. The other songs usually have a few more lines than that, but are pared down to the core: "A folding chair/Sitting out by the wading pool, chlorine blue/Rush of wind passing over me/Restless nights/Chin up, cheer up/My love's another kind..."
Grizzly Bear craft a beautiful, delicate collection of freakfolky tunes with a psychedelic edge, an exquisite listen that takes a little while to sink in. "Yellow House" should be lived in.