Music Reviews
Veckatimest

Grizzly Bear Veckatimest

(Warp) Buy it from Insound Rating - 9/10

With two six packs in the refrigerator, two friends listen to Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest and, afterward, discuss its merits. One friend is an indie rock-loving hipster with skinny jeans and a obsession with bands like Animal Collective, TV on the Radio and Band of Horses. The other is a rock fanatic who, though open-minded toward experimental folk rock, has little tolerance for pretension. This is their conversation.

Indie Hipster: What did you think of Southern Point? Is it just me or did that song rock a lot more than anything off Yellow House? It’s got to be one of my favorite compositions they’ve done. With all those eye-of-hurricane dynamic swells, that piece completely blew me away.

Rock Fanatic: Sure, but I knew better than to get too excited. That’s what albums do now: start off with the coolest, fastest, most hard-hitting track and then delve into slow, introspective soundscapes. I loved that harmonized acoustic guitar solo, though. Didn’t that sound like something Yes would bust out?

IH: Definitely. Oh, wait. If it sounds like Yes, I’m not sure I’m supposed to say I like it. How’s your Budweiser?

RF: Good enough. How’s your handcrafted triple I.P.A. brewed with imported cloudberries?

IH: Complex, but subtle. Speaking of which, I loved the second song. Remember those harmonies and how they weave together, climbing up and up like that? That track is like a hammock for your brain, and all you can do while listening to it is kick back and chill.

RF: That was Two Weeks, right? I think I saw the video for that one. Isn’t it the one where they’re sitting in a church, and there’s no real way to know whether they are playing pedophiles or victims of pedophiles? That doesn’t make me think of kicking back. It makes we think of running the hell away. In fact, it makes me think that maybe there’s some kind of creepy undercurrent to the song that I’m not picking up.

IH: Maybe, but you’re probably reading into it too much. There’s a beautiful simplicity to the song itself. A nine-year-old could play that piano part, but those quarter notes are the pulse of the song, and the harmonies are the respiration. It’s part of what makes this band so organic.

RF: If they’re so organic, why do they use all that electronic noise in their albums, like they did on Yellow House?

IH: Okay, maybe organic isn’t the right word, and besides, there’s not nearly as much noise on this album as the others. But who cares if all the parts make complete sense together? Just listen to that a cappella section and how well their voices work together. I bet if Fleet Foxes covered Two Weeks it would rain frogs.

RF: Whoa, don’t get carried away, man. By the way, my head kind of hurts. Do you have any Excedrin?

IH: I’m not surprised. You slept through about four of the songs in the middle. It probably had something to do with the five Buds you drank in the course of the first half of the album. Also, you were moaning a lot in your sleep, and you sounded happy. Were you having that dream about the Hold Steady concert again?

RF: I’m sorry, but those songs were just so mellow. Maybe we shouldn’t have been drinking beer while listening to it. It all made me really sleepy. What did I miss?

IH: Look, this music is made for active listening. Just try and absorb all the different parts that are going on at once, and you’ll appreciate it.

RF: I do appreciate it, and I recognize that it’s technically amazing music. Just from listening to those hooks on While You Were Waiting for the Others and the section where there’s all that melodic and rhythmic interplay in the vocals, it’s clear they’re brilliant musicians. Just like the last album made me feel like I was on the porch of some backwoods cabin, this one makes me feel like I’m on a ship deck off some New England coast, and with Waiting for the Others, the band definitely evokes quite a storm. It’s gorgeous, but it feels like these guys are more interested in creating textures and conveying moods than writing songs.

IH: I guess it’s very baroque in that way.

RF: Meaning?

IH: There’s an abundance of ornamentation.

RF: Ah, elitism.

IH: It’s not elitist if it actually is better than almost any other pop music out there. This one is probably the closest rival to Merriweather Post Pavilion we’ve heard this year.

RF: I don’t know. I’m just not sure about this one yet. Obviously it’s good. We’ll just need to keep listening to it over and over before we can come up with any meaningful assessment. It all seems a bit front-loaded, too. The first two songs are the most accessible work Grizzly Bear’s ever done, and those tracks alone are enough to make Veckatimest worth several listens. Most of this album, though, is going to take way more effort to get into.

IH: It’s worth it.

RF: I’m sure.

Comments for Veckatimest review

There are quite a few albums

There are quite a few albums superior to Merriweather Post Pavilion. Veckatimest is one of them; in fact, Merriweather Post Pavilion isn't even close to being the album of the year much less surpassing Strawberry Jam and Feels. It's amazing what jumping on the bandwagon can do.

Mmmmmm Indie kid backlash

Just because other people like it, doesn't mean it's not good. I thought Strawberry Jam was the peak of Animal Collectives discography until I heard MPP. Its like what Brian Wilson would've created if he was born in a different time. It's poppy, but involved. i fuckin' love it.

On another note, Veckatimest is amazing and rich. I'm in love with it so far.

Watch It

Indie kid my ass. I'm not a poser nor do I self-identify as a hipster or any of that other pretentious crap. I'm just a guy who loves good music. Merriweather Post Pavilion is excellent, since I admittedly did not make that clear. It's just not deserving of ALL of its glory and praise especially since it really doesn't better much of their previous output, particularly the last two efforts. On equal footing, perhaps, but not surpassing them. Occasionally the album lacks definition with its amorphous song structures, and feels draggingly repetitive in spots. Its hype is dangerous and nonsensical. What is the special ingredient about Merriweather Post Pavilion that made critics fawn so profusely? Repeated listens are somewhat unrewarding as the album doesn't sound as fresh nor surprising as when I initially played it. This is a case of critics not having a mind of their own and prematurely declaring an undeserving work as the bona fide album of the year because it's the thing to do, with no exceptions, while being unconscious and negligent of better things that have graced their ears. Can anyone think for themselves anymore? It's all been the same hyperbolic fluff that doesn't insinuate any real meaning at the end of the day. I've heard several albums in 2009 that are of higher tier, and again, Veckatimest is one of them.

Hyperbolic?

Listen, I think that you are taking your own opinion way to seriously. Just because YOU don't think the album is deserving of the hype doesn't mean it isn't. I for instance thought that the album was absolutely destined to be the album of the year as soon as I heard it. I was blown away over and over again far before the reviews and public reaction came around, so I think its a little self-involved to think that it is merely something that people are crowning just to have something to crown. I don't understand the hype and praise heaped upon Daydream Nation, but you won't hear me telling people that it is unworthy of the hype, just that I don't understand it.

That being said, Veckatimest is a wonderful album, but for me MPP is clearly the better album. As of now my standings for the year go...

1. Animal Collective- Merriweather Post Pavilion
2. Grizzly Bear- Veckatimest
3. DM Stith- Heavy Ghost
4. Cymbals Eat Guitars- Why There Are Mountains
5. Fever Ray- Fever Ray
6. St. Vincent- Actor
7. Bill Callahan- Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle
8. Dark Was The Night
9. P.O.S.- Never Better and Brother Ali- The Truth Is Here
10. Wilco- Wilco (The Album)
11. Wildbirds & Peacedrums- The Snake
12. Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Its Blitz
13. Neko Case- Middle Cyclone
14. The Felice Brothers- Yonder Was The Clock
15. Antony and the Johnsons- The Crying Light
16. Bat For Lashes- Two Suns
17. Dan Deacon- Bromst
18. Phoenix- Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
19. Super Furry Animals- Dark Days/Light Years
20. Japandroids- Post-Nothing

but these are VERY subject to change

Self-Involved?

I'm not taking my opinion too (learn the difference) seriously. Is it because I speak firmly and eloquently? It simply is what it is and you can love or leave it. You seem like a simple-minded person and easy to please so it probably isn't all that surprising that your list is full of the usual suspects just like everyone else's. You've got a lot of nerve to come on here and tell me my opinion is too self-involved and then preach to me that Merriweather Post Pavilion IS the year's best album, like that's a fact. And if it is, you should probably check your sources because I don't think so. And as long as I don't think so, that's what I'm standing by. Veckatimest is stronger. But thanks for playing!

ugh

you=the worst

Whatever

Good. But yet your a** is curious enough to go and stalk my MySpace page?

Woot

I agree with placing MPP above Veckatimest. Also, props to Cymbals Eat Guitars!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.