Thursday, June 4, 2009
Review of "Veckatimest"
Oh boy, it just doesn’t get any better than this. Just a few days ago, I was extolling the pop excellence of the latest Dirty Projectors release. Now we have Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest coming. This is going to be one fine summer.
Grizzly Bear, of course, are the Brooklyn based band of folky artists. Tough often paired with the freak folk groups, Grizzly Bear have an almost reserved style to them, musically and visually. They never really take us to absurd lengths and they look like people who you would take home for your mother’s sake. They broke through with 2006 Yellow House, an album full of soft melodies and folky ballad, mixed in with orchestral music. Now they return with the outstanding Veckatimest. You’ve already been seeing great reviews for this work already. I have some problems with other people’s reviews, meaning, there is virtually nothing wrong with the album. This is an album that starts bands, makes people and become a part of one’s lives. This is one of the year’s best albums.
Of course, as with all albums, there is that awkward listening period where you have to listen to the album quite a few times to get the feel of it. This is particularly true with this album. Upon the first few listens, only the upbeat songs like the single “Two Weeks”, “Southern Point” and the penultimate song “I Live with You”, while the rest of the album comes of as boring. Then the album starts to get good. Then great. Then you reach the point where you become overwhelmed by the album’s warm textures, dense sound and the fantastic vocal work from all the members. Instead of humming the piano riff or the vocals on “Two Weeks”, you start humming the subtle organ crescendo in the chorus. Every part of the album stands out in it’s own ways, like a grand church chorus, and even if those parts are all the way in the back of the chorus.
The album is filled with quiet subtly moments like that on the album. I’ve began to notice quiet orchestral sounds humming in the background of many songs, the angelic humming opening up “Dory“, or the muted, yet distorted guitars of the closer, the aptly titled “Foreground“. Like it’s album cover, Veckatimest is an album that can be broken down into pieces and rebuilt in beautiful new ways. Great albums are filled with moments where you’ll go “Holy Shit” when you’ve discovered something new about the songs. Who knows? Maybe in three years I’ll be listening to this album, and I’ll discover something new about that I haven’t realized before.
With Veckatimest, Grizzly Bear have made an album that can compete with Animal Collective’s miraculous Merriweather Post Pavilion, another album filled with hidden moments and surprise melodies. Grizzly Bear are a band that managed to make something grand and somber at the same time, with as little as possible. Instead of an orchestra backing them up, it’s a small chamber orchestra group. Nobody really belts out big moments, but sing together in unison. The best moments are often the quiet moments. Veckatimest shows that it’s often better to be the quiet and subtle and just make something quietly complex, rather than to throw it all at you at once. It’s truly a sign of great genius.
Quite stylish, no?