By: Jessica Grose
Instead of gnarled, matted brown fur and sharp claws, Grizzly Bear’s music brings to mind another kind of hulking, sienna figure: a monk, clad in rough-hewed, belted habit. There is a minimalist, ascetic quality to Grizzly Bear’s debut full length, Horn of Plenty, that makes it seem as if it were recorded in a cloister. The arrangements are simple and faraway sounding, as soft harmonious voices echo through singular guitars and spare strings.
Impressively, this cosseted, lo-fi gem was recorded not in a monastery, but over 15 months in the decidedly less holy Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, and while band members Ed Droste, Chris Bear, Chris Taylor, and Dan Rossen ostensibly had to hold down day jobs and venture into the outside world.
The lyrics continue the monk analogy, as they come from a place of contemplation. “It took ages for me to figure out what I was supposed to know,” Droste sings in his utterly exhausted tenor on “A Good Place.” Though not always deep (“My chest hurts a lot tonight,” a phrase repeated several times in “Fix It,” isn’t exactly James Joyce), Droste’s expressions suggest he’s spent a great deal of time with himself, abiding by his own set of vows.
A disc of remixed tracks from Horn of Plenty is out today, and features work by Tim Sweeney of DFA and the Castanets, among others. Grizzly Bear will play several shows in the Northeast and Midwest this month before embarking on a trip to Scandinavia. If you miss them in the U.S. in November, not to worry: These Grizzly Bears will be back in their natural habitat before Christmas.
Grizzly Bear U.S. tour dates:
11/8, Oberlin, OH (Oberlin College)11/9, Bloomington, IN (The Church)11/10, Chicago, IL (Empty Bottle)11/11, Cleveland, OH (Inside Outside Gallery)12/9, New York, NY (Tonic)12/11, Boston, MA (TT the Bear’s)12/12, Providence, RI (AS220)