out May 26th
Music fans today often toe the line between fans and junkies, looking for the stickiest bass, the speediest beat, the hottest new thing to hit the streets.We search for the next bump, the next hit, the next thing we can inject into our ears to make us feel so good.
Thing is – and here’s the rub – music isn’t really meant to be treated like that.Sure, our remix culture is trying to turn it into something that’s good for a quick high and bad for lasting relationships, but that’s not the way music’s supposed to be.Music is supposed to be enjoyed like wine.Rolled around on the tongue, sipped, savored.Shared with good friends.Aged in the dark for years and then revisited for special occasions when you feel like treating yourself.
Grizzly Bear’s latest album, Veckatimest, is a fine bottle of wine
Like any bottle of wine, Veckatimest wasn’t at its best when it was prematurely opened three months ago.It was good, no doubt about that, but it wasn’t at its highest quality.It was poured too early, and judging an album before it is ripe isn’t fair.So now that the album has aged nicely and can be experienced with its full flavor, let’s pull up a chair, crack open a case of Grizzly Bear, and enjoy a nice glass of Veckatimest.
When the cork is first popped, out pours “Southern Point”, a track that starts with light notes that soon blossom into one of the more upbeat songs on the record.It contains traces of styles found across the entire album in a myriad of forms; sometimes Ed Droste’s vocals are airy and removed, elsewhere they are front and center.The guitars are occasionally clean, but are just as often fuzzy and effected.The drums oscillate between driving and punctuating.The tune is a delicious whiff of what’s to come.
The first real sip, however, is where the full flavor of Veckatimest hits for the first time.“Two Weeks”, the album’s second track, is impossible to dislike – the piano notes dance sweetly while Droste’s voice does the real work, giving the track legs that stick it firmly in your mind for the duration of the album.It’s the kind of song that you listen to once and immediately make up your mind about, tell your friends about, write home about.I bet hundreds of hipster kids will have their first kiss to this song.
Following a dramatic opening, Veckatimest (like any worthy wine) continues to grow on the listener the more it is tasted.Subtler notes reveal themselves, in no hurry to rush to the front of the crowd.It’s the type of album that really flourishes when you give it time, listen to it at its own pace.Skip from track to track and you lose the spirit of the album, the very idea of Grizzly Bear.It doesn’t really make sense, but more than many bands these days, Grizzly Bear is making songs to listen to slowly.Put the to-do list to the side before you sit down to enjoy this album.
Veckatimest isn’t a good album.It’s a beautiful album.Unhurried and effortlessly, Grizzly Bear finds a balance in which detachment and patience mix to sound worldly and wise.The band lets the music breathe, letting the notes fall where they belong rather than trying to place them perfectly.As a result, each track takes on a feeling that is equal parts identifiable and unique.The cuts are Grizzly Bear varietals – the album isn’t just a bottle of wine, it’s a whole wine cellar.
“Ready, Able” is an oaky red, perfect for winter afternoons and forest cabins.“About Face” is a brighter summertime white, to be enjoyed with a sunshower.The opening notes of “Fine For Now” are a sacred Port and “I Live With You” is a sweet dry Sherry.The entire album is delicious.
It isn’t for everyone, though.There will certainly be a fair number of bump-seekers that will leave empty-handed and disappointed.The tracks on Veckatimest, although reservedly hopeful, aren’t always upbeat. Droste’s voice has a mournful tinge to it, evocative of a broken heart or an empty bottle. But for those who take the time to give this album a chance, I’d venture that few will be disappointed.
“Foreground”, the album’s closing track, is one of the most gorgeous songs I have heard in years.It is painfully simple, calm - tranquil and yet unsettling.It envelopes the listener, the taste of the final drop of wine slowly spreading across the tongue.And when it is finally finished, Veckatimest lingers, hesitant to disappear entirely.It’s a perfect ending to a fantastic album that will only continue to improve with age.Enjoy.
To enter to win a copy of Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest, leave a comment with your thoughts on the Grizzly Bear, the tracks you've just sampled, or (if you've listened to it) the album. Make sure you leave your name/email address in the provided fields! Entries will be accepted until May 26th
Chris Barth writes a weekly Thinking Man feature here at Pretty Much Amazing and now he’s trying to review albums. You can read his more succinct daily entries at his blog, The Stu Reid Experiment.