It’s been a little while since the hype years of Grizzly Bear. I remember, back in 2005 or 2006, when the Brooklyn-based band were filling the city’s mid-size venues with excited indie rock fans who appreciated their mix of subtile rock music, original arrangements (largely due to multi-instrumentist Chris Taylor who would play the flute, keyboards, bass and whatever else he could put his hands on) and beautiful vocal harmonies.

Almost a decade later, the quartet hasn’t lost their touch: their new album “Painted Ruins” just came out on August 18, 2017, on RCA Records and reaches some of the same peaks. But I wasn’t always in awe while listening to these new songs by the Brooklyn-based band.

Four Cypresses is an airy song where the band brings the listener in another world, softly first, then climbs gradually, à la Pink Floyd of the Syd Barrett years. “Painted Ruins” isn’t close to compare with their beautiful “Veckatimest” that charmed everybody on the indie planet ten years ago. I don’t know if its because I wasn’t in the right mood (we’ll see as other reviews come up…) but I did not find any “wow effect” on any songs of their fifth album and first in 5 years to come out.

There are good moments, like the mellow rock Losing All Sense and the offbeat coolness that Aquarian brings, but this album kind of feels like the post-“New Adventures in Hi-Fi” R.E.M. records to me. You know the band can do better than that… but this isn’t a bad package of songs either. Neighbors, the 9th of 11 songs on “Painted Ruins”, is a bit catchier than the rest of the album, and compares with bands like Shearwater who occupy the space with soft panache.

Here are a few clips from the album… and some are pretty weird!

 

Rossen’s guitar sounds is a blend of Byrds-influenced 60s feel mixed with highly reverberated effects which captivate the ear. Songs like Glass Hillside seem to come from another era. Ed Droste’s singing is no less than beautiful on many occasions, like Cut-out, even if not overly melodic. “Painted Ruins” feels like its the type of album that requires ten listening sessions to really get hooked on… but all first nine don’t feel that ecstatic.

The band explains the creation of “Painted Ruins” in this interview.

 

Since “Shields” came out in 2012, the band toured a lot. Guitarist Daniel Rossen has released a few albums, even though he had previously stated he never wanted to be a solo artist. “Painted Ruins” was produced by Chris Taylor and recorded at Allaire Studios (Ulster County, near Shokan, New York), Terrible Studios in LA.

GRIZZLY BEAR painted ruins

GRIZZLY BEAR
Painted Ruins
(RCA, 2017)

-Genre: atmospheric indie rock
-In the same ballpark as Patrick Watson, Shearwater, recent Radiohead

Buy the album on Google Play
Follow the band via their Facebook page
Listen to videos on the band’s YouTube channel

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About The Author

Nicolas Pelletier

Mélomane invétéré et rédacteur agréé, Nicolas pratique la critique en mode olympique: il parle de tout, tout le temps, depuis 1991. Il a publié 6 000 critiques de disques et concerts dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur enMusique.ca, dont il a également été le rédacteur-en-chef de 2009 à 2014. Il publie “Les perles rares et grands crus de la musique” en 2013, et devient stratège numérique des radios de Bell Média en 2015, participant au lancement de la marque iHeartRadio au Canada en 2016.