Grin and bear it

Fri, May 22, 2009, 01:00

CD CHOICE: GRIZZLY BEAR: VeckatimestWarp ****

Grizzly Bear have always walked on the mild side. This has been the way of the Bear since Ed Droste first began conjuring up hazy, swooning atmospheric sounds. Since releasing 2006’s rapturous Yellow House album, Grizzly Bear have been associated with certain attributes: pristine chamber-folk, closeknit mass harmonies, languid lyrical drama.

These days, though, many indie rockers make use of such retro splashbacks. Be it Fleet Foxes getting high in the mountains or Bon Iver hibernating in his cabin, hippie sonic values have suddenly become both common currency and a valuable commodity.

Not surprisingly, given this resurgence, Warp is betting the house on Veckatimest.Grizzly Bear have already accumulated a following (supporting Radiohead simply accelerated that process), so a new release in a climate where bands of wide-eyed beardies sell thousands of albums will mean much rubbing of hands at the label.

What Grizzy Bear do on Veckatimestis what you’d expect them to do, plus more. For a start, they’ve stretched the template every which way they can. The palette may seem simple and streamlined, but there’s so much subtlety at play here that you quickly become happily lost in fluffy layers of sound.

Every listen to the shuffling, shapely sweep of opening track, Southern Point, reveals another nudge in a different turn, with classical composer Nico Muhly’s lush orchestrations acting as deft markers. They’ve also added soul to the show to dilute some of those folkie tones. On Two Weeks, it’s the soul of angelic doo-wop practitioners, crooning and “oooohing” to the heavens, while the guitars and choruses on Cheerleaderare a treat for the ears. www.grizzly-bear.net

Download tracks: Two Weeks, Southern Point, Cheerleader