Grizzly Bear – Cheerleader
Normally when an album has been as anticipated as much as Veckatimest has, it inevitably sinks under the weight of expectation. In the case of Grizzly Bear, everything they have done since 2006’s Yellow House has signalled a band nearing their creative peak.
From compilation appearances (David Shrigley’s Worried Noodles) to cover versions (The Crystal’s He Hit Me), internet downloads (Deep Blue Sea) to EPs (Friend), collaborations (Dark Was the Night) to solo projects (Department of Eagles) – the band have been steadily building a reputation as an indie supergroup.
There’s the bassist who doubles as a producer, the drummer who can sing, and distinctively different songwriting talents who were paired against each other like a modern day Lennon and McCartney.
But when two live performances of new material circulated through the blogosphere last summer, Veckatimest rocketed to the top of people’s wishlists for 2009. That it doesn’t disappoint is just one surprise from an album full of them. From the Simon & Garfunkel-like bridge of Southern Point to the understated elegance of closer Foreground, the songs are accessible and structured while still retaining the sprawling prog element of Yellow House, offsetting saccharine pop moments with an otherworldly darkness.
The production’s attention to detail balances neoclassical arrangements, choral harmonies and a guitar sound that’s both gentle and incisive. Together it sounds enormous, delivering a diverse set of songs (despite a thematic thread of strained relationships) that are surprisingly soulful – a sound that led Fleet Foxes lead singer Robin Pecknold to proclaim Veckatimest as the greatest album of the ’00s. There will be no shortage of such hyperbole surrounding this release but if there will be better albums than this in 2009, it will be a great year for music.
Cheerleader can be downloaded for free here.
Photo by ahtap, licensed under Creative Commons.