Hang on to your picnic baskets – Grizzly Bear took a serious bite out of the Billboard charts last week and the Brooklyn band's not going into hibernation any time soon.
The animal-themed quartet (no relation to Yogi) sold 33,000 copies of its third album, "Veckatimest," to land at the No. 8 spot on the charts, besting five-figure debuts earlier this year by fellow indie phenoms (and On The Download alumni!) Animal Collective and Andrew Bird. The big splash is surely no surprise to Grizzly Bear fans – the band has been everywhere in the three years since their breakthrough release, 2006's critically acclaimed "Yellow House," from touring with Radiohead to performing with the LA Philharmonic and gracing the late night stages of David Letterman and Conan O'Brien. But does the furry foursome deserve the hype?
"Veckatimest" answers that question with a resounding "Yes." From the opening notes of guitar epic "Southern Point" to closing ballad "Foreground," the indie act delivers on the potential of "Yellow House" and their graceful live performances. The band plays a progressive brand of folk music that recalls the ambitious psychedelic guitar work and soaring harmonies of '70s acts such as Crosby, Stills & Nash even as it showcases more modern influences.
Take "Cheerleader," a song that sounds like a Beach Boys track turned inside out with its murky production, or "Foreground" which could be a reworking of Radiohead piano dirge "How I Made My Millions," thanks to its echoing tones and co-frontman Edward Droste's numb vocals. First single "Two Weeks" is less icy, offering pop bounce even as Droste croons mournfully, "I told you I would stay." Throughout, the lyrics are ambiguous but mournful, heavier on downcast mood than details.
Like Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear's latest draws heavily on the past – particularly, the rich harmonies and roomy-sounding recordings of the late '60s and early '70s – while clawing toward the future with unconventional songwriting.
Expect the band to roar across indie rock for years to come.
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