Grizzly Bear – Shields


Artist: Grizzly Bear

Title: Shields

Record Label: Warp Records

Rating: 8.4

The past decade saw the birth of a new breed of indie demi-gods. Most of these smaller deities fell from grace by their second or third LP and yet some other grew in power and influence. Amongst these was Grizzly Bear. And so in the year 2012 from the studio heaven Shields descends with newfound glory for the redemption of our expectant prayers cast.

It has enough pop cred to inspire younger mp3 players. Fresh experimentation to keep old fans intrigued. The renowned epic layering of vocals that once elevated them into a completely distinctive sound come back not yet grounded nor appearing jaded. Grizzly Bear has returned with one of this year’s most shockingly quality-consistent productions, one more effort to add to their already impressive discography.

Initially, the result sounds more aged than previous releases. Ed Droste seems to have found a new side to music that was always there in potential kinetic energy but never really exploited. Here all instruments, his ever-refined vocal style and lyrics worthy of a stand-alone publication find a common space in which to grow exponentially. It is a collage of self-evident influences put together into cohesive songs that shocks for its originality without once loosing the Grizzly bear factor in its background. The soundscapes are as diverse as unexpected. From track to track taking us to remote places with daringly exotic plots turns and unexpected twists. The ten songs present feel like twenty and still we wish there were five more of the same. Just in the second release ‘Speak in Rounds’, in the same progression you can trace the band’s evolution with the rapid drum arrangements and its twirling crescendos, a succession of nostalgic reminisces that remind us of their 2004 origins. ‘A Simple Answer’ transgresses the limitations usually attributed to the band, opening a new frontier to explore in future releases. And with that the band reinvents their own vision enough to give hope enough for listeners widespread to adoringly raise expectations for the oncoming years.

Shields, placing them at the forefront of a whole generation of musicians that changed trends and genres in the 2000s, the album emerges as the peak in music craft for a band that never ceased to surprise piers and fans alike. This album restores Grizzly Bear, absent for almost three years, in the rightful shrine of bands that defined the term indie in times of need.

Chris Kummerfeldt