Album of the Week

Shields by Grizzly Bear

Let’s face it: when it comes to machismo, Grizzly Bear are hardly the Grizzly Adams of the indie music scene. The Brooklyn-based four-piece’s beautiful 2009 record, Veckatimest, and its predecessor, Yellow House (2006), were soaring, elegiac epics with lushly layered harmonies and chest-swelling octave swoops. 

Oasis they ain’t. Which makes their new record — so secretly guarded that when we meet the band we’re still not even allowed to know its title (it’s called Shields) — something of a surprise. It sounds, there’s no other way of saying it, kind of butch.

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“I suppose there are less flourishes and it’s a bit more aggressive,” says Daniel Rossen (above, far right), one of the band’s two vocalists. “I think we were all interested in making the arrangements a bit more concise, so sometimes that resulted in just having single vocal performances rather than these huge crazy palettes of voices. If anything we were going for something slightly more direct, so maybe that comes off as butch, which I think is hilarious.”

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Once again, the band holed up in a cabin in Cape Cod to make the record, and despite the idyllic surroundings — just four regular guys, snuggled under tartan blankets with bowls of chowder, singing four-part madrigals at the passing whales (we’re conjecturing here) — the album that came out was “very intense,” says Rossen.

“It’s a pretty stressful record, so I feel you should be in a good state of mind when you listen to it.” Which if you’re as gladdened by the prospect of a new Grizzly Bear record as we are, shouldn’t be too hard to manage.

Shields, the new album by Grizzly Bear, is out now (Warp)


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