#28 on the 2012 Musical Bacon Calendar
Shields by Grizzly Bear
I haven’t given this album a fair shot. When Grizzly Bear came out with Shields back in September, I remember listening to it a couple of times and thinking “meh.” I didn’t pick it up again until a couple weeks ago when I was putting together this list, at which point my opinion of the album changed entirely. It’s damn good. Much better than 2009’s Veckatimest, which barely made the cutoff for the list that year. The only reason this new, better album is also lingering down here at the bottom of the list is because I haven’t had a chance to give it the number of listens it requires to make it higher up in the list. But I’m confident it would have scored higher, probably in the Top 20, if not the top half of the list, had I given it its due.
Grizzly Bear is an anomaly. Perhaps less so now, but when they hit the scene a decade ago, I didn’t know what to think of them. Here in 2012, they’ve fallen out of favor for me, but I’m feeling that this album is going to change all that.
Jangly guitars, dissonant harmonies, unusual instrumentation (and instruments — was that a door slam I just heard?) are all hallmarks of the band, taking psychedelia from the 60s and 70s and updating it for a younger more musically intelligent audience. Their music, and this album, are tragically pretty.
Imagine a Lars Von Trier movie, in music. You’re not going to cry your eyes out at the end of the album, but you may feel exhausted from the experience of listening nonetheless. Give the album a listen, then rewind back to 2006 and listen to their 2nd album Yellow House, their best. You’ll hear similarities, but it’ll be hard to tell which one came first, as they both feel as if they could be an evolution of the other. Either way, it’ll be an enjoyable experience for you, I’m sure.