Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

No secret we’ve been excited about this one for awhile. And as the band blogged, it’s no secret that a transcode of the album is burning up torrent sites a bit earlier than anticipated. On the other hand, between live shows and television appearances, the wait for a Yellow House followup’s seemed interminable, Grizzly Bear’s pre-release maneuvering and gradual song reveals setting expectations impossibly high. “Two Weeks” and “While You Wait For The Others” suggested a marked turn to sun-dappled pop; every song we heard thereafter fucked with those expectations while giving them dimension. Before this week we’d heard enough to know it’d be pretty great. After a few spins of Veckatimest, we’ve heard enough to know this is the band’s best album to date, and that people won’t talk about them the same way after hearing it. Put simply: The new Grizzly Bear is a beast.

With sounds so rich and detailed, lyrics aren’t the first thing you think of when listening to Grizzly Bear, although there does seem to be a theme running through most of Veckatimest. At its heart, it’s an album about the space and place between loved ones, which the band alludes to quite literally: “In the end you’ll never find … Will I return to you, will you return to me” (on the opening “Southern Point”); “I told you I would stay” (“Two Weeks”); “I can’t get out of what I’m into with you” (“All We Ask”); “If it’s all or nothing, then let me go” (“Fine For Now”); “They’ll try to keep us apart” (“I Live With You”); and on. Relationships make an about face, they hold still, they linger in the foreground. So it makes some sense that the album’s titled after a place-out-of-time unto itself, while possessing a syllabic string that conjures something of the album’s sound: mood-spanning, fantastical, and otherworldly.

That said, the set does contain the unabashedly straightforward pop cuts in “Two Weeks” and “While You Wait For The Others.” Not much needs to be said about those considering the amount of hypertext that’s been served in their honor already, but it’s worth noting that the studio was good to both. Grizzly’s previous foray into the realm of the “pop jam,” “Knife,” was appended with a minute-and-a-half of surreal vamping; this time the band kept their insta-pleasers clean, vibrant, and succinct. If radios were still a thing that existed, they totally wouldn’t need to make radio edits. (Also, Beach House’s Victoria LeGrand on “Two Weeks” is a nice touch.)

On first hearing “Fine For Now” we realized the band was working on some knottier pieces to accompany the previously discussed cuts’ sunny poptimism, and indeed the remaining ten tracks defy any such easy characterization, incorporating elements of Yellow House’s avant folk and compositional complexities and taking them to new realms. “Southern Point” opens and announces the revamp of the Yellow House template with its acoustic guitars, pianos, and runaway drums matched to snatches of scene-coloring strings and billowing into a pretty/anxious wah-wah blizzard. Moments like these pop up throughout, but the approach is more dynamic and song-oriented than before.

In a Progress Report, Ed said “With past releases there have been small regrets of how we would have preferred things and I think this time we are just covering all the bases and making sure every member of the band has exhausted all the ideas and concepts they’ve wanted to explore.” That attention to detail and conceptual exploration is evident in every minute of Veckatimest, from the subtle interplay between Nico Muhly’s tasteful string quartet arrangements and Chris Taylor’s equally experimental production ticks (check the delirious climax of “I Live With You”), to the group’s instrumental and four-part vocal arrangements throughout.

The band’s shown interest in older sounds before, notably with their covers of the 1962 Crystals cut “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)” and “Marla,” a 1930s song by Droste’s great-great-aunt, and both eras get work here: “Cheerleader” builds on nostalgic melodies and a lockstep groove in the vein of their “He Hit Me” arrangement, while the stunning “Ready, Able” is an intermittently psychedelic, rousing and grooving pull on victrola-era pop. Picking standouts is tough when its clear songs like “Dory” and “I Live With You” are as much meant to be slow-bloomers as character builders, but immediate standouts abound: in addition to those mentioned (“Cheerleader,” “Fine For Now,” “Two Weeks,” “Ready, Able,” “While You Wait,”), tack on the delicate and chiming “About Face” and the fragile, set-closing torch song “Foreground,” a perfect ending to an intimate yet expansive, sprawling pop album.

Grizzly Bear remain a band as interested in exploring traditional and contemporary American music forms as they are subverting them. Most of the talk around this record will center on its status as an of-the-year contender, and rightly so. But more importantly, we have a work from a band continuously defying expectations, pushing back boundaries and chipping into well worn tropes to find something new. For Grizzly Bear Veckatimest is a game changer, and a cause for celebration.

Veckatimest is out 5/26 via Warp. Preorder on the Grizzly blog. It’s big with the kids.

Comments (187)
  1. andrew  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    you really do evaluate these albums quickly, I just thought premature evaluation was just a witty title.

  2. this album deserves any and all praise it gets

    • pote  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 -3

      i didn’t buy the new animal collective and i won’t be buying this. fuck BOTH these bands! :)

      • kurt  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

        sounds like deliberate anti-consumerism to the point that even popular indie music is WAY TOO POPULAR FOR YOU.

        you’re so punk rock.

  3. pedro  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    amen.

  4. HH  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Finally an album who’s hype I can stand behind. Fucking magnificent. Nice write up too. Dory is particularly lovely to me.

    • ben  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

      Dory is abolutely one of my favorite’s as well.

      But it’s hard to pick any favorite. Each song is so dynamic and different and all worth while. It’s a truly incredible record from four incrdedibly talented guys. Blows me away whenever I even think about how far they’ve come, yet in such a small span of time. This is their second album as a fourpiece? Incredible. They’re totally here to stay.

  5. AQ  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    TOO SOON

  6. woot  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    if they’re not in a feud with someone, i’m not buying it.

  7. cooper  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    amen

  8. Jamie  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Wonderful.

  9. John  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Too soon or not, this is such an accurate write-up. Grizzly Bear HAVE changed the game with this record. They didn’t just raise the bar. They put the bar on a rocket and launched it into space. There are so many moments throughout where I become so overwhelmed by the creativity and beauty put into this that I can’t help but grin from ear to ear – or even laugh. At first I thought, okay, this is a great record – they’ve done it again. Now that I’ve spent more time with it, I truly believe it will go down as a classic. And it hasn’t even been released yet! Can’t wait to get my grubby paws on the vinyl of this. For me, 2009 is yours GB, and nobody else’s.

  10. Like the Jonas Bros waiting to punch kitty, I’m gonna try to hold off on this album. This write-up, though, makes it a little more difficult

  11. not as good as mpp

    before you downvote me, look into your heart, you know it to be true

  12. Alex  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    This is that one rare album that contains so much pleasure, that it actually deserves the alluded pun of ‘premature evaluation.’

  13. william  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    A band and effort truly deserving of the praise they get. Good for them. I can only pray that they keep making music together for a long time.

  14. Andrew  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    I don’t downvote you because it is true. They’re both beasts but MPP is better.

    And don’t say there’s no need for a comparison because there should be. These are the only two bands anyone talks about anymore.

  15. this album has everything that is good about music somewhere in its 52 minutes.

    also, what does this have to do with Animal Collective?

  16. Veckatimessedmyselflisteningtothisalbum  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Grizz in my pants

  17. Jamie  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Part of me is sad that I’ve already found my album of the year as it’s only March. The other part of me is so so happy.

  18. Dear Liza  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Everywhere I go people are talking about Grizzly Bear and I’m strangely OK with it.

  19. I used to be only mildly disappointed they weren’t playing Coachella. After hearing this album I’m one bitter little bitch.

  20. WHERE?  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Where are all the haters? Where’s the Ed Droste impersonator ??? WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?!?!?!?!

  21. Top 3 albums of modern time:
    1. Van Morrison ‘Astral Weeks’
    2. The Velvet Underground ‘Velvet Underground & Nico’
    3. Grizzly Bear ‘Veckatimest’

    This is one for the history books.

  22. Ed Droste  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Oh did you miss me? I only kid. I’m just Ed Droste’s impersonator’s impersonator. He’s away on vacation at Veckatimest Island.

  23. cooper  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it…..basically its healthy and necessary to compare and debate mmp and veckatimest even if we don’t come to sound conclusion..

    also, just to start shit, grizzly bear is better than mmj and fleet foxes combined!!!

  24. Judging by “Colorado” and “Foreground,” Grizzly Bear are the undisputed king of incredible album closers.

  25. Sambert  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    It’s exciting to see people excited about great music. When I grew up everyone was listening to Cake and Matchbox 20. Times sure have changed, (or maybe I just moved and grew up)

  26. NJOY  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    YESSSS! I CAN”T WAIT FOR SASQUATCH!!!!!!!!

    • Sam  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

      the backdrop of The Gorge paired with the untouchable soundscapes of the Grizz… RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE EXTREEEEME

  27. mattP  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Hallelujah, and also, jizzzzz!

  28. jbean  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    very solid album….but still something about it is not the celebration i wish it was….. mpp and its blitz play better front to back than this.

  29. CuriousCate  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Why oh WHY must bands announce new albums have been completed and then release them 3 months later?? We get excited, climax, and then when it actually comes out… eh.

  30. I will do my best not to download this leak.

    From now on I will avoid any post title that reads “Grizzly Bear” to avoid reading how amazing it is.

    Thank you all.

  31. talk to me on july 1  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    regardless of how good this album may be, i’ll bet that no one will be talking about this album by the time summer comes around. you’ll all have moved on to something else, just like you did with the record by those animal collections.

    • Well  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

      The blogs probably wont, but it’ll come up again at the end of the year when it’s on the TOP OF EVERYONE’S LIST. Wait, scratch that it comes out in Late may, so you’ll DEFINITELY still be hearing about it in JULY

      HAVE A GOOD YEAR

    • Jamie  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

      Yeah that’s why there’s comments comparing the two right off the bat. Cause people forgot about MPP.

    • Bitter, anyone?

      To say people won’t be talking about an album by July is too much of a stretch, especially if you consider that it is actually released in May and that oh yeah, it’s Grizzly Bear, members of the indie creme of the crop with one of the most anticipated albums of this year.

  32. cooper  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    we’re only human…

  33. I love “Cheerleader,” “Fine For Now,” “Two Weeks,” “While You Wait For The Others.” I didn’t like “Dory” that much, but I’m certain it will grow on me over time.

  34. can stereogum just make a place for the inevitable MPP VS VECKATIMEST debate that will go down on EVERY page about either band

  35. Michael_  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    I wanted to take this chance to apologize to everyone. Why you ask? I have a secret and its that I am the one who has been posting as the fake Ed Droste. Let me explain first a few things before you welcomingly hit that downward red arrow.

    First and foremost, the joke in those posts was not meant to make fun of Ed’s homosexuality. There is nothing wrong with being gay at all. The humor (or lack there of, in most of your eyes) was actually to take the all-around goodness of Ed’s personality and ironically turn him into a power hungry rock god due to the deserving hype of this new album. We know that probably will not happen in real life, so this is why it should be ironic. On top of that, the hype surrounding Veckatimest has reached fever pitch levelsm here on Stereogum. This only supported the storyline I created in the fake Droste world because they helped establish the self-important nature in fictional Ed Droste.

    Again, I apologize to all those who hated those string of posts, to Stereogum, to Ed if he read them. Humor is and always will be subjective, but I’ll do my best to keep things on a leash from now on.

    As for what I think of Veckatimest, I listened to it about 8 times today, no lie. The first time I heard it, some tears welled in my eyes and I knew at that moment that experienced the true meaning of “beauty.” You may not think it’s the best album, you might think it is. There is one thing you cannot deny, though, and its that its special. Very special.

  36. whatiwantto  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    The Grizzly vs Animal Collective tirades are pointless, let’s just appreciate that both are in top form and are worth getting excited over, end of story….

  37. Kip  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Yeah, this is really fucking great. What an awesome year for music.

  38. Easy E  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    How does it compare with the In Ear Park album?

    • Like night and fucking day. In Ear Park is a pleasant and interesting album, but it’s rather two-dimensional and a little repetitive after a while.

      One of the things actually that I really like about this album is that I could actually hear a lot of EARLY Department of Eagles pop sensibility in there (especially on “Southern Point” and “I Live With You”), which is great because The Cold Nose is a really fun album.

      • Christian  |   Posted on Mar 7th, 2009 0

        i have to disagree…i think in ear park was criminally underrated. it made very few best-of lists (which, i know, doesn’t mean much, but still…), but i think it is a gorgeous and charming album. really special stuff. that said, the new grizzly bear is more enjoyable for me, but people shouldn’t write off in ear park. that album is a masterpiece.

  39. rudy  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    be thankful. i mean, it’s only march. 2 great bands drop two great albums in 3 months time? madness!

  40. I caved in…

    …and I feel perfectly fine about it.

    It lives up to the hype, plain and simple. The first time I listened through the album, it really just didn’t sink in how good it was because there are so many things going on with it. This is such a quantum leap from Yellow House in terms of songcraftmanship and nuance that it really somehow managed to catch me off-guard despite having heard half of the album’s tracks already performed live. Front-to-back, every second of this album is packed with utter beauty, creativity, and energy.

    I think the one noticable thing that is really going to set this album apart from the rest of the good music out there right now is the fact that I think people ARE going to be talking about this album the rest of the year. I feel like this band has catapulted themselves into the realm of “supergroup,” in that it’s a collection of 4 absolutely tremendous musicians who are able to bring their collective talents together to create music that is both forward-thinking and incredibly pleasurable.

    Normally I would say the “game-changer” monicker is a cliched and contrived way to describe any music that does something new and original. I really do feel that it’s spot-on in this case. But I guess the real test will be to ask me again six months from now and see if I feel the same way. I’m optimistic though.

  41. Jarrett  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Unbelievable album. I just wish they’d push up the actual release date so I can hear the high quality version sooner. I mean, May 25 is SO far off. And it’s kinda sad that it leaked as early as it did. =(

  42. grizzz  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Why has there been no talk about Bear’s drumming yet? He totally makes the album. Everyone knows that Droste is world’s 2nd best Omnichord player (behind Jim James), that Rossen is a great guitarist, and that Chris Taylor looks like a puppet from Team America, but someone please talk about how awesome Bear is!!!

  43. alright so im extremely happy with the new album obviously its really great. but i do get a little annoyed how it seems like everyone is convinced that AC and GB are the only people capable of making truly great music, stuff that is on that “other level.” there are more bands out there just as if not more capable

  44. someone had to say it  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    there’s a lot of momentum toward over-gushing here, but yellow house is better, front to back. go back and take another visit…

    • wrong  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

      you are just wrong but I’m ok with that I think

    • I agree. I’ve listened to Veckatimest twice thus far and Grizzly Bear has crafted an album on par with its immediate predecessor but not one that is a radical evolution in sound. Veckatimest sounds great, but is essentially more of the same and is riding on a tidal wave of overstated hype. Still a predictably excellent release, just one that doesn’t quite deserve all of the praise it’s been universally receiving so far. But perhaps once this album gets its proper physical release and I’m able to digest its contents with headphones rather than a middling quality mp3, my verdict will change significantly. Excellent, but not sensational.

      • Thinker  |   Posted on Mar 6th, 2009 0

        I think your comment says a lot. 1: Wait more then 3 days to make big statements 2: Wait for actual copy with good sound quality 3: Digest the album

        Then we’ll talk

  45. bi-polar bands  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    when do we start having the wolf parade argument? ya know, ed vs. dan? spencer vs. dan?

    winners: ed and dan b.

  46. Urf  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    Definitely great and all, but am I the only one who thinks “Southern Point” blows the rest of the record away? Definitely my favorite thing I’ve heard from them.

    • Jarrett  |   Posted on Mar 6th, 2009 0

      I wouldn’t say it blows the rest of the album AWAY; the entire thing is way too solid for one song to fulfill that role. However, it is certainly one of the best songs on the album. The changes in the song are incredible.

  47. VERMILLITON  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    In Ear Park > Veckatimest (But this one is still full of absolute jams)

    • ggg  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

      Sorry honey, you are just wrong on that one. Veckatimest>Yellow House>In Ear Park>Horn Of Plenty>Friend

      There, now you know

  48. Giveitarest  |   Posted on Mar 5th, 2009 0

    All I’ve heard of this is what they played on Late Night TV shows, and that’s all I’m going to hear until the thing comes in the mail…and I’m not reading another damn word about how brilliant it is. All the hype for MPP gave me astronomical expectations, and because of that, it was a letdown. Now that I’ve given it some time on my own without all the bloggers’ and commenters’ input, it’s great, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let my expectations for this get built up only to have another letdown on release day…that said…I can’t wait.

  49. Chuck  |   Posted on Mar 6th, 2009 0

    Fine for Now is a jam, and this album is definitely up there with MPP. It’s going to take some repeated listens to see how it compares, but I love it so far.

  50. reido  |   Posted on Mar 6th, 2009 0

    i just don’t think that MPP even holds a candle to this album. MPP is good and all, but veckatimest is just way way way way more beautiful than animal collective ever will be. and i’m listening to a 160k transcode.

    let the pissing resume.

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