Elizabeth Islands Time
From Watership Down to Zabriskie Point, a hallowed litany of artists have titularly enshrined odd nooks in nature, embodying off-the-beaten-tracks locales with a sense of mythicism that goes far beyond any physical prettiness. In such a spirit, the gents of New Yorker folk-pop quartet Grizzly Bear have turned an uninhabited Massachusetts islet into a top-shelf tourist-draw for daytripping indie trainspotters. Veckatimest Island never knew what hit it.
The buzz for Grizzly Bear’s third album has long been buzzing; at least since they made a pair of late-night television appearances in April and June last year, offering super-advanced sneak peaks at two of Veckatimest’s highlights, “While You Wait for the Others” and “Two Weeks” on Conan and Letterman, respectively. A year on, the album is here, and “Two Weeks” —a classical pop-song cascading with counterpoints and decked out in heavenly harmonies— is clearly its stand-out song. It sounds like it should be a case of anticippointment, but, my friend, such an assumption is surely wrong. “Two Weeks” is the clear stand-out song on one of 2009’s defining discs.
I'm Cheerleading Myself
After debuting as Ed Droste’s solo home-recordings, essentially, on 2004’s Horn of Plenty, Grizzly Bear have grown and grown; Veckatimest a logical successor to 2006’s Yellow House, which found Droste and his newly-taught gang-of-four composing complex arrangements, using production as an ‘instrument,’ and, most of all, reassessing their sense of ambition. Three years on, and that ambition has come to full fruition; Veckatimest ripe with body, vivid with color, bursting with sweetness.
With some helping touches from avant-classical it-boy Nico Muhly, Droste and in-house Bear producer/arranger type, Chris Taylor, have constructed some truly wondrous pop-songs decked out with some truly delicious flourishes: the ricocheting backing vocals in “While You Wait for the Others”; the unexpected guitar solo near “Fine for Now”’s finish that at first seems to smother the song, before you realize it’s actually bringing out the details dowsed underneath it; the in-the-margin scribbles that threaten to obscure the message of “About Face”’s text; the holy, choral conclusion found on “Foreground.”
Veckatimest is an album full of glinting, individual highlights, but is also a collection of individual highlights adding up to one coherent whole. It’s an album that finds Grizzly Bear having their compositional cake and eating it, too: an album as meaningful in its grandest gestures as in its smallest details; an album both staggeringly simple and quietly complex; an album that plays as well three dozen times in as it does on that virgin spin.
Record Label: Warp
Release Date: 26 May 2009