Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Grizzly Bear - Yellow House

Grade: 84.5%
Official Score: 86.7%

What The Others Think

Pitchfork Score: 8.7
Tiny Mix Tapes Score: 4 Out of 5
Coke Machine Glow Score: 86%/83%

Those unfamiliar with the band yet know that Warp, the band's label, is renowned for its cutting edge electronic acts might have assumed that Warp pressed the wrong album, or that perhaps Grizzly Bear pulled a Doves on us. Both would be incorrect, though the latter does come a bit closer than the former. In actuality, Yellow House is just the natural progression from their first release, Horn of Plenty, and all the better for it.

Yellow House is probably my favorite album to fall asleep to, which I mean as a compliment. I can fall asleep to just about anything, but it takes something special to keep my brain working, twisting and turning. Yellow House does just that. The album's pacing is just right to nod off and drift along with, and its dynamics are vast enough to create vivid landscapes and colors without waking me. Also, the vocals, like on "Little Brother" or "Colorado", sound far enough away that they appear to be blowing over like a gentle spring breeze, yet close enough to envelope like a blanket.

The album's first track, "Easier", starts like a lullaby, with a simple finger picked acoustic guitar riff and Edward Droste's cooing. The music is folk music, I suppose, but folk like Animal Collective's Sung Tongs is folk. The next track, titled "Lullabye" no less, starts very similarly, only with simple strumming replacing the finger picking. The song later cascades and peaks, with its ascending guitar line seemingly lifting the song out of the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Meanwhile, "Knife" finds the band at their catchiest, with a chorus of reverb soaked and processed "ohhh-ah-ah-oooh's" that will make your head spin.

I should probably mention now that this album is a headphone masterpiece. Songs like "Central and Remote" hit a peak that's as rewarding as climbing one yourself, while "Little Brother" has enough twists and turns to keep the listener on their toes. "Plans", with it's repetitive chord progression and tape loops sounds like it would fit perfectly on Olivia Tremor Control's Black Foliage, another masterpiece in its own right.

Unfortunately, the album falls just short of being a modern masterpiece. "Reprise" and "Colorado", both as lovely as as they are (and I'm sure to receive some shit for saying this) do not even compare with the album's best, which is really more of a testament to the album's highlights than it is a criticism of a couple of good songs. Besides, there are a couple of snoozers towards the end of Sung Tongs too, yet it is still talked about after almost 3 years (including myself), so I find it doubtful that people are going to forget about this wonderful album because the last two songs don't quite live up to the other eight. Trust me, the more you listen to it, the more you'll find yourself obeying the lyrics sung in the album's highlight song, "On a Neck, On a Spit": "Each day I spend it with you now/All my time spend it with you now." Play this album around a campfire or just before bed, and play it loud enough so the melodies gently glide into your head.


girlfriend said...

I want to cuddle with some bears!

Corentine said...

Well written article.