Grizzly Bear's folk-pop

June 14, 2009 

  • Veckatimest

    ***

The Brooklyn-based band Grizzly Bear is one of the most popular acts in contemporary indie rock, yet the group is also among the most divisive. The reasons why are no real mystery.

Grizzly Bear's brand of orchestrated folk-pop is ornate and ambitious, flirting with classical music levels of complexity in the density of its arrangements and sophistication of its suites. It's just the sort of thing that tends to induce swooning in fans of other brainy, intricate artists such as Radiohead and TV on the Radio.

At the same time, the group doesn't concern itself much with things like groove and rhythm, which causes some to write Grizzly Bear off as potted and staid.

The group's newest album, "Veckatimest," proves both the acolytes and the detractors are right in their own ways. Grizzly Bear delivers dazzling drama on the multisectional opener "Southern Point" and awe-inspiring prettiness on the harmony-laden "Two Weeks" and "Cheerleader" (both of which betray the band's serious stylistic debt to the Beach Boys). Meanwhile, co-vocalist Daniel Rossen showcases the sort of haunting, insidious pipes that can makes your skin crawl in a good way on the likes of "All We Ask" and "Dory."

If you like your music full of sex, danger or even just movement, Grizzly Bear probably won't get your motor running. Still, though haters are fond of likening the group to a piece of art, static and immobile, "Veckatimest" could hardly be considered dull, not when it houses so many beautifully invigorating shifts in tone and emotion.

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