1 Grizzly Bear - Shields
The odd thing about Shields is it feels more like a follow-up to Yellow House, albeit with more confidence in a certain amount of grounded forcefulness, than to Veckatimest, a step back from immediate approachability. Not that Shields is difficult, but it wears its psychedelic heart on its sleeve greater, crossthreading tempos upon each other and force-feeding pastoral arrangements into layers of collapsing drums, little solo runs and skyscraper crescendos, not always at the end. The little details are key, the best songs feeling like a careful patchwork arrangement where the bits that might not seem consistent if separated come together in one beauteous, panoramic soundscape that plays with dynamic tension and pulls its subject far away from the pitalls of serenity with well timed guitar squalls, percussive rolls or something arriving from a completely different angle, effects that seem to float in mid-air or help crash the teetering tower onto the rocks. Over the top of it all while still fitting like a particularly oblique but still fitting jigsaw piece, a basic melody as cover that neither cleaves to modern folk nor weird Americana but, like a ProTools Van Dyke Parks, digs out brand new fallow, wholly organic ground in the middle. There's nothing as immediate as past triumphs here but taken as a whole and over time, soaring and surging over craggy baroque grounds, a mesh of uncertain emotions unlock themselves and, merging together as a record with this much care put into it should, emerge as something far greater than the sum of its parts, which where these four are concerned is a great deal indeed.
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