According to Grizzly Bear
's Daniel Rossen
, he and his fellow bandmates had to take some extra time to find their footing as a group again while recording the follow-up to their mammoth 2009 album Veckatimest
. Apparently having spent each of their down times absorbing wildly different musical influences made it difficult to write and record in unison. That struggle to connect is rendered gloriously cinematic and universal on the aptly titled Shields
. Based on the idea of barriers that people build and try to break down between one another, it's an album that sprawls and shape-shifts where its predecessor comfortably cohered. It also rocks with an indelible intensity that, while new to the band, fits them like a well-worn glove.
Not since Radiohead has a band been so ready to and successful at pulling its sound apart and putting it back together as something new over the course of an album. Hell, swaggering single "Yet Again" and its neighbor "The Hunt" would be right at home anywhere in that group's post-Kid A catalog. The beauteous baroque pop of Grizzly Bear past isn't completely abandoned, though. "Speak in Rounds" plays like "Southern Point" with an improved sprint time, and "Sun in Your Eyes" is another swelling swan song in the vein of "Colorado" and "Foreground." Elsewhere, Talk Talk
and krautrock collide in sleek standout "Gun-Shy," while storm in a teacup "Half Gate" is already a live favorite that has been deemed a classic in the Grizzly canon by none other than Stereogum.
Vocally, Rossen and Ed Droste
have never sounded more vital, and the guitars have shed their polite restraint without losing their hypnotic nuance. Like all conflicts should, those experienced by Grizzly Bear during recording seem to have made them stronger as a collective. While this album may not be the unified statement of purpose that the last was, its complexity and adventurousness make it just as bold an effort, and maybe even a better one as time passes. Shields