Grizzly Bear shines on ‘Shields’

Michael Bragg

Editor’s Note: The following reflects the opinions of the author.

On Grizzly Bear’s “Shields,” the first formal release from the Brooklyn-based indie rock outfit since 2009’s near-perfect “Veckatimest,” the listener must immediately abandon every preordained thought hatched on the account of Grizzly Bear to enjoy the album.

They are best known for their single “Two Weeks,” a piece of infectious indie-pop that has managed to find its way into pop culture via cinema and a popular rap remix performed by Childish Gambino.

“Shields” as a whole is a perfectly arranged album. The listen is much akin to a cinematic feature. There is a sense of beginning, plot, climax and closure brought about by “Shields.”

“Sleeping Ute” might possibly be one of the best opening tracks of the year thus far, and if “Yet Again” does not get stuck in everyone’s head by the end of the year, than soneone shoudl make it their mission to do so.

With the cementing of their cross-over appeal motioned by “Two Weeks” and a discography which is comprised of two EP’s and three full-length albums, Grizzly Bear had no more to prove with “Shields” than their ability to consistently dish out not only quality songs, but albums as a whole.

Grizzly Bear long denies the suspicion of a post-masterpiece flop with “Shields.”
Lyrically, “Shields” is a much wordier album than previous releases. Even on songs such as “Two Weeks” or “All We Ask,” two of Grizzly Bear’s more popular songs, verses tend to get repeated, almost as to hammer the message in to a fault.

On “Shields,” there are little-to-no repeated verses, which inspires the listener to pay attention to not only the musicianship, but the lyrical artistry of the band, who all collaborate on lyrics.

The true growth and versatility of Grizzly Bear cannot be fully realized until listening to their musical progress from their 2004 debut, “Horn of Plenty,” to “Shields.”

The term “hipster” has long been associated with Grizzly Bear. What with the ironic and awkward band name – Grizzly Bear is better suited for a metal act – non-conformist song structure, harmonious vocals, beautifully arranged guitars, forever changing percussion patterns and most importantly – the style.

With that said, no release should be generalized, but rather enjoyed by the individual listener, therefore all preconceived ideas and assumptions garnered from music blogs, Grizzly Bear’s typical followers and overall sound must be forgotten when entering into the most delicately delightful 45 minutes the listener will experience all day.

Grizzly Bear have not only shown their versatility in the area of musicianship and originality, but manage to keep their songs uniquely listenable.

Rating: Four out of four stars

Story: WILL GREENE, A&E Reporter