Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest
The neo-classical precision of Grizzly Bear’s music—the feeling that its choral harmonies, woozy orchestrations, and slippery waltz signatures aren’t just written, but composed—has only grown more pronounced since Yellow House, but somehow that meticulousness never becomes lifelessness. Veckatimest was named after an unpopulated island, but it’s teeming with life, mystery, and surprise—the biggest of which may be its potential for crossover success. As early glimpses of the ethereal, doo-wop-derived earworm “Two Weeks” and the swooning psychedelia of “While You Wait For The Others” hinted, Veckatimest is more song-oriented than its predecessors without sacrificing any experimental tics, making for the band’s most satisfying record yet.
Distressed electric piano, disembodied choirs, and the instantly discernible strings of Nico Muhly color the album’s meditations on distance, as seen in the bitter retreat of the galloping opener “Southern Point” (“You’ll never find me now”) and the hushed, heartbreaking refrain of “All We Ask.” (“I can’t get out of what I’m into with you.”) But for all Veckatimest’s talk of space, its brilliance lies in subtle, interlocking moments such as the backward guitar disrupting the lockstep girl-group groove of “Cheerleader,” the way the watery ballad “Dory” shifts seamlessly from genteel to creepy, or the cinemascope cacophony that ends “I Live With You.” As with Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion (a record it seems likely to vie with for album of the year), Veckatimest offers more than just an inventive exercise in collage: It’s like hearing the past few centuries of music playing in symphony, which sounds—thrillingly and reassuringly—like the future.