In my time as KRUA music manager, the station has never anticipated an album release quite like this. With countless days, sleepless nights and one amazing single, every Grizzly Bear fan had their dream come true last week. The Brooklyn-based band finally released their fourth studio album, “Shields.”
Years later on May 26, 2009, “Veckatimest” was released to critical acclaim, which included the piano oriented “Two Weeks.” The song actually has a feature from Beach House’s Victoria Legrand on the vocals (your fun indie fact of the day). Meanwhile, mainstream America tried to use the song on everything from Superbowl commercials to cheesy teen sitcoms. As the release of “Shields” approached, what would be the album’s “Knife” or “Two Weeks” that would have both corporate executives and hipsters drooling?
“Shields” opens with the lead single “Sleeping Ute.” Daniel Rossen begins a rambunctious guitar melody that’s followed by Chris Bear’s cymbal crashes and pounding percussion. If that wasn’t already an eclectic mixture of sounds, somehow Ed Drose’s omnichord and Chris Taylor’s bass line find a way to blend in perfectly. Grizzly Bear incorporates inspirations of folk music, electronic mixers, and past indie bands that all come together to deliver and produce something that few bands carry: creative individuality.
While “Shields” tends to follow in the footsteps of “Yellow House” with the use of darker tones and atmospheres in songs like “Speaking in the Rounds” and “The Hunt.” Other songs such as the second single, “Yet Again,” bring back the dynamic resonance that is heard in “Sleeping Ute.” This may be because of the shared time on vocals between Ed Drose and Daniel Rossen, who is showcased a lot more on this record. While Drose writes the ominous lyrics, Rossen sees a more positive outlook the duo effectively illustrates on “Shields.”
The album may not necessarily have that one song that will have the indiesphere blogging for months, but as a collective album, “Shields” continues the Grizzly Bear legacy. There is little disappointment in the album, and a more lively approach to a few songs would have complimented “Shields” a lot better. However, I’ll probably find myself listening to this record for a long time — a very long time. It might just have kicked Beach House’s “Bloom” off the top spot as the album of 2012.