It’s strange to think that Grizzly Bear are pretty much a band that happened by accident – their debut album, Horns of Plenty, in 2004 was just a personal vanity project of singer Edward Droste, who had no plans to continue it.
Yet, only 5 years later, Grizzly Bear were not just a fully-fledged quartet, but one which were producing music of a delicate complexity and high degree of experimentation, with third-album, Veckatimest, getting rave reviews. It, alongside Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion vied for top spot as the best album of 2009. Now it seems like the groups are going to war again, with both bands set to release a new album in September as well as new singles this week.
In reality, this is not a straight-out contest though; while Animal Collective thrive in the weird and wonderful experimentation of psychedelic-rock (new single ‘Today’s Supernatural‘ is crazy), Grizzly have always been somewhat more subtle and understated in their sound. This is clear in new track ‘Yet Again’, the first official single from fourth-album Shields. A song based on a lo-fi fuzzy drumbeat, a mirage of different percussion and Droste’s trademark vocals soaring over the song; atmospheric is the buzzword here.
The Brooklyn-based foursome’s real strength though is their vocal harmonies, which drive the song, building up gorgeously into a crescendo. At times though, you feel like you are still waiting for something more to happen. A musical change at around 3:30 gives you a start – electronic beeps intermingle in the process, followed by a Rossen shoegaze-lite jagged guitar solo – but it feels too little, too late.
It’s nice enough, but nothing special. Animal Collective 1 – Grizzly Bear 0