I told you I would stay
Grizzly Bear is a perfect example of a band that constantly exudes resilience. They went through a dynamic musical evolution, complete with the creation of four unique studio albums and multiple EP’s, and managed to come out triumphant and successful on the other side. They went through changes, alterations, additions, and subtractions, yet always maintained a strong sense of confidence and tenacity. I simply adore their passionate work ethic, their personality, and of course, their fantastic music.
Grizzly Bear was initially formed in 2002 as a solo project by now-front man Ed Droste. He wrote, played, and recorded their first album Horn of Plenty with only little contribution with now- drummer Christopher Bear. Then, at the live shows, the pair was often joined by now-bassist Chris Taylor, and then soon after the group was slowly completed with the addition of guitarist Daniel Rossen. Ed Droste admitted he enjoyed the feel of a complete band instead of just “mumbling into a microphone” by himself, and soon the band’s evolution truly began. Yellow House was released in 2006, and it was considered a complete transformation from the first. This album was indie folk at it’s finest. It contained focused, whimsical guitar melodies along with choral like vocals that tied everything together. One of the opening songs titled”Lullabye” is exactly that – a romantic, soothing waltz that sounded dreamy and almost like something out of a scene in a beloved children’s book. The slightly more aggressive (well, as aggressive as Grizzly Bear can get) track “Knife” comes next (my personal favorite from this album), where Droste’s and Rossen’s vocals sweep you off your feet and the intense bass notes envelop you in sound. “Little Brother” is an eerie melody with strong instrumentals, and Plans gets a little crazy with mixing. This is where the album takes a bit of a turn. “Marla” is a beautiful mixture of sounds from accordions, flutes, guitars, violins, and just about anything and everything else. The result is something powerful and wonderfully overwhelming. The album wraps up with “Colorado,” a fateful yet hopeful story with gorgeous vocals that yearns for the future. Yellow House was revolutionary in both it’s strong instrumentals and brilliant songwriting, all without seeming too overused or repetitive, which is why it was regarded as one of the best albums of it’s time period. However, the best was yet to come.
Veckatimest, my personal favorite Grizzly Bear album, was released in 2009. I just love the way it totally grew apart from the second album, in which newer, more complex techniques and the introduction of newer instruments changed their sound completely. They went from purely indie folk to a more psychedelic, dream-esque style of music. The band was really starting to gain popularity at this point, given that they got the legendary chance to open for Radiohead and following the intense success of their second album. “Southern Point” opens the album with a bang. Right away you can sense there’s a glowing, shimmering sense of maturity in the mixture of styles and influences. It flutters and erupts in glorious ways, intertwining the tenacity of strong vocals with the innocence of plucked guitar notes. And of course, this album has the most famous Grizzly Bear song “Two Weeks,” where a repetitive, bouncy guitar melody propels the whole song into a whole other dimension. The vocals on this unbelievable track are nothing short of perfection, and it inhabits a sense of whimsy and naivety, something that sounds absolutely incredible, and there simply is no other song like it. The simple tracks “All We Ask” and “Fine For Now” follow, and then the waltz of “Cheerleader” takes center stage. This entire album seemed a bit more accessible in it’s entirety, and seemed a bit more put together than Yellow House was. It’s my favorite because you never really knew what would happen next, and that sense of unpredictablity is what ultimately drives any indie band. Some might say these songs can be boring, which only shows that some just don’t listen as closely as some of the rest of us do. There’s complexity underneath simplicity, and these four guys can do it all.
Shields was released in 2012, and is Grizzly Bear’s fourth studio album. I can say it’s the band’s most intense, aggressive album to date. I can hear many different styles (like the stereophonic tone of the Black Keys and the dynamic tones of Animal Collective) carefully embedded in these songs, and they are incredible overall. The album opens with “Sleeping Ute,” where the guitar is absolutely stellar and the drumming is fantastic, not to mention the incredible lyrics that tie it all together. The intensity is toned down at the very end with the trademark Grizzly Bear guitar riff. “Yet Again” soon follows, and the playful, jazzy tone in both the instrumentals and the lyrics makes it a highly addictive song. Ed Droste has a gorgeous voice, and it is definitely showcased more here. The smooth, flowing track “Gun-Shy” follows, and is definitely the dark, dismal, hypnotic track on this album. “Sun In Your Eyes” is the dynamic finisher, and leaves you wanting more. Overall, Shields proved to be an extremely impressive album with an intense complexity and virility not found in their earlier works, and it was deemed one of their most amazing albums to date. I love Grizzly Bear because they don’t turn you away. They know how to pull you in with their accessible pieces, then know how to keep you listening. Each song they put out drips with passion and love, and as a band, are incredibly close and comfortable. I can’t wait to see what they will bring to the table with their next album, because I know it will be absolutely fantastic.