Grizzly Bear, ‘Veckatimest’ (Warp)
Originally the Brooklyn bedroom project of filmmaker turned singer Edward Droste, Grizzly Bear became a true band with 2006’s hazy yet assured Yellow House. Folding in Christopher Bear’s deft percussion, guitarist Daniel Rossen’s meticulous songcraft, and producer/multi-instrumentalist Chris Taylor’s Eno-esque ability to conjure and capture atmospherics with his mobile recording unit and processed woodwinds, Grizzly Bear were soon opening for acts as diverse as Radiohead and Feist. Though their choirboy good looks and close harmonies helped lure a wider audience, the band’s haunted waltzes and dirges were its core. And even as they feature orchestras, women’s choirs, and Beach House singer Victoria Legrand on Veckatimest, the album is still an intimate, ascetic affair.
Opener “Southern Point” builds on a driving banjo pattern, with classical composer Nico Muhly adding Steve Reich-ian garlands, before it all explodes into a stunning prog-folk climax. Similarly, upbeat tracks “Two Weeks” and “While You Wait for the Others” clarify the blurry experimental ambience of Yellow House just enough for the songs to shimmer. Yet, Veckatimest’s centerpieces are the band’s most fragile moments. Rossen’s poignant, echoing ballad “Dory” is stripped bare, while Droste’s new romantic croon infuses “Ready, Able” with a ghostly presence. Steeped in Wilco’s bittersweet Americana, and adding a northeastern gothic twinge, Grizzly Bear sound like they’re trying to break your heart.