Top positive review
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on 18 September 2012
I'm not gonna pull any punches on this one, Grizzly Bears fourth studio album is an unmitigated triumph! A bounty of immaculate pleasures of earth shattering transcendence and just about the best gosh darn album I've heard all year. The pristine detail and expansive orchestration on Veckatimest is basically ripped apart and frenetically reassembled on Shields, with drums that are more clattering, guitars that ring with a greater insistence and a multiplicity of other instruments that are forcefully used to generate a truck load of indomitable impact.
On opener "Sleeping Ute" the cavernous resonance of Veckatimest is brilliantly paired with the otherworldly dreaminess of Yellow house to re-imagine the two in stunning Technicolor. Its Flailing cymbal splashes, unidentified electronica and chugging guitar chords delightfully introduce the song and Daniel Rossen's impeccable fingerpicking brings it to a serene finish. It's rare that a song can undergo so many twists and turns without disappearing into sea of formless confusion, but Grizzly Bear make it look so easy on "sleeping ute" and practically repeat the process 8 more times on shields to prove how well their chaotically complex approach can be adapted into writing memorable songs.
"Yet Again" places angular guitars, propelling Harmonies and a loose drum fill into an inimatable pop format, before cathartically exploding itself at the 4.30 mark. "Whats Wrong" blends Cool Jazz and folk rock so seamlessly you'd have thought the two genres were seperated at birth and "A Simple Answer" juggles a "Linus and Lucy-esque" piano refrain whilst stacking Rossen's gorgeous croon, synths, busy guitar, harmonies and even a frickin saxophone at one point. For those of you with high blood pressure, rest assured their are Quieter moments to be found on Shields too. "Adelma" offers a nice palette cleansing instrumental and "The Hunt" provides some of the rustic warmth and graceful restraint that brightly emanated from Yellow House.
Two of the albums most ambitious tracks come right at the very end on shields to set up an engrossing grand finale of superlative splendour. "Half Gate" is a rickety behemoth that gives way to Colin stetson-esque cacophany and orchesthral bliss, the opening lines "Pass The Rolling Shore, I have Nothing Left To Hear" perhaps succintly summing up the albums all encompassing feel. And then their's "Sun In Your Eyes" a 7 minute beauty of swooning horns, forlorn piano, irrepressable drumming and an ingenius use of space that recalls Talk Talk's post rock masterpiece Laughing stock. I have nothing left to offer, except to say BUY THIS ALBUM! it really is something special.