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Veckatimest Review in Under the Radar Magazine

As anticipation for Veckatimest built to a fever pitch in early March—Radiohead’s ateaseweb.com message board filled with literally thousands of conjectures—Fleet Foxes’ frontman Robin Pecknold brazenly declared it to be the best record of the 00’s, all this more than a full two months before the record’s official release date. Hyperbole cast aside, Veckatimest is certainly Grizzly Bear’s magnum opus, a quantum leap over 2006’s excellent Yellow House, and a damn strong contender for the best album of 2009 at this early juncture.

Veckatimest
is unabashedly baroque, but not needlessly so, as tasteful string and brass accoutrements complement and never clutter. The orchestral arrangements of Nico Muhly nicely augment a few of these tracks—“Ready, Able” swirls vertiginously, with lush strings sawing through throbbing percussion, while brass-driven swells lend the woozy “I Live With You” a serene undercurrent until a jagged guitar maelstrom punctures the ethereality like a burning spear shattering glass.

Daniel Rossen has improved by leaps and bounds as a vocalist, exhibiting a near-perfect vibrato here, hitting notes that approximate the gorgeous registers of a violin. And Ed Droste’s androgynous falsetto is still out of this world, stripped of the reverb that so often cloaked it on Yellow House. On the sprightly march of “Two Weeks” Droste even sounds eerily like Roy Orbison, romantically keening, “Would you always, maybe sometimes/Make it easy, take your time,” over wobbly mellotron and honeyed Beach Boys-esque three-part harmonies.

Indeed, this is a superb record, a spirited illustration of sepia-tinged Americana that feels linked inextricably with Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion as one of the not only most hyped, but also the finest records of 2009. it something of a twilit yin to Merriweather’s day-glo yang—considerably more ruminative, doleful and intimate.

On “Fine for Now,” Rossen resignedly pleads, “If it’s all or nothing then let me go/There was time, it took time,” just one of the many lyrics on Veckatimest that allude to the inevitable passage of time and the attendant deterioration of relationships. Despite this, temporality seems moot here. Veckatimest is a sonic artifact that feels utterly dislocated, existing in a enigmatic world where time and distance are merely memories, and an unsurpassable aesthetic of love and loss reigns supreme.

By John Everhart
9 out of 10 stars