Grizzly Bear - Painted Ruins
2017 continues to unravel as the year of the returns. Returns that is, for some of the largest names in indie rock from the last 10-15 years re-emerging. Grizzly Bear is the latest and to my ears, Painted Ruins is the best of the bunch from this crop of artists, save Crack-Up by Fleet Foxes.
Now signed to RCA after a 3 album stint with Warp, it’s pretty damn comforting and reassuring to hear Grizzly Bear working from within rather letting the outside world have its effect while shaping their songwriting. Thankfully Grizzly Bear haven’t embraced R&B, electro-pastiche or cheap pop hooks. Instead, they’ve burrowed even further towards cerebral, orchestral art-rock that is inimitable and wholly unique to the identity they’ve broad-stroked since 2002. With current indie trends running headlong into the pop world while previous styles such as a grunge enjoying a nostalgic return, it’s refreshing to see Grizzly Bear go the other way. Stylistically and symbolically, it’s as if they’ve found their kinship with prog rock.
Which is not entirely far off. A song like “Four Cypresses” takes a grumbling rhythm and shimmering mellotron-like organs and beautiful immerses them with soft nylon acoustics. The unpredictable chord changes, phasing and rich, distorted electrics that develop never submerge Ed Droste’s (always) heavenly vocal. “Mourning Sound” just might be one of the most “indie-rock” songs they’ve ever produced with it’s thwacking backbeat and the effortless, head-bopping quality the song emits while Daniel Rossen tosses in sterling bits of fuzzed up guitars. Meanwhile, “Neighbors” recalls 2006’s Yellow House with its seafaring tilt and woozy instrumentation while “Three Rings” resides in murky territory with heavily syncopated drums, shoegazing guitars and darkened atmospherics. As the song slowly shifts to a sunny and spirited ode, you find yourself lost amongst the hazy buildup that closes the song.
Grizzly Bear have taken their time gestating between releases. It’s clear why. Their music is dense and thick, their songs deep and unconfined. Painted Ruins is another marker in this well established trend. (Dom)
Check out a track here.