In my time as KRUA Music Manager I have never anticipated an album quite like this. With countless days, sleepless nights, and one amazing single every indiehead in America had their dreams come true. Brooklyn band Grizzly Bear had finally released their fourth studio album this week. In between my tears of joy and overall euphoria I’ve pulled myself together to bring forth a review for Shields.
Grizzly Bear is perhaps recognized more for their singles than their albums. 2006 brought the band’s debut Yellow House that included the heart wrenching song “Knife.” 2009’s Veckatimest had the piano oriented “Two Weeks” that featured Beach House’s Victoria Legrand on the vocals (Your fun indie fact of the day.) Meanwhile, mainstream America tried to use the song on everything from Superbowl commercials to cheesy teen sitcoms. As for the release of Shields what would be the album’s “Knife” or “Two Weeks” that would have both corporate executives and hipsters drooling?
Shields opens with the lead single “Sleeping Ute” that begins with Daniel Rossen’s rambunctious guitar strums that’s followed by Chris Bear’s loud percussion that includes cymbals crashes and pounding bass drums. If this wasn’t already an eclectic mixture of sounds somehow Ed Drose’s omnichord and Chris Taylor’s bass line find its way to blend perfectly. This is Grizzly Bear’s sound, inspirations of folk music, electronic mixers, and past indie bands come together to deliver something that few bands carry – creative individuality.
While Shields tends to follow in the footsteps of Yellow House with its use of darker tones and feels in such songs like “Speaking in the Rounds” and “The Hunt.” Other songs such as the second single, “Yet Again” bring back the dynamic resonance that is heard in “Sleeping Ute.” This may be due to the shared time on vocals that is split between primary vocalist Ed Drose and Daniel Rossen who is showcased a lot more on this record. While Drose writes the ominous lyrics, Rossen sees a more positive outlook that together the duo effectively illustrate Shields.
The album may not necessarily have that one song that will have the indiesphere blogging for months but as a collective album Shields continues the Grizzly Bear legacy. There is certainly no disappointment from my end but a more lively approach to a few songs would have complimented the album a lot better. However, I’ll probably find myself listening to Shields for a long time… a very long time. It might just have kicked Beach House’s Bloom off the top spot as the album of 2012. 4.9/5
By: KRUA Music Manager Felipe Godoy