CONSEQUENCEOFSOUND.NET EXPOSED |Grizzly Bear’s album is erratic, sometimes soft but often raw and crashing.
EXPOSED |Grizzly Bear’s album is erratic, sometimes soft but often raw and crashing.

4/5 stars

Brooklyn-based indie rock band Grizzly Bear is set to release its fourth studio album, Shields, on Sept. 18. This will be the band’s first release since 2009’s Veckatimest, an album that was met with overwhelming critical acclaim. The success of Veckatimest was due in large part to its experimentation and genre-blending qualities. With Shields, Grizzly Bear attempts to continue along the same trajectory it set for itself three years ago — and it succeeds in doing so.

“Sleeping Ute” is the lead track and first single from the album. With its quirky psychedelic tangents, loudly crashing rhythm and flourishing vocals, the song defies any sort of linear quality. Yet somehow, it works. Somehow, the seemingly strange pauses and pared-down detours become something close to catchy. It’s certainly a strange choice for Shields’ first single, but as a lead track, “Sleeping Ute” more than adequately sets the stage for a loud, quirky and decidedly nonlinear album.

Both “Yet Again” and “Half Gate” are able to come closer to a happy medium between experimentation and unconventionalism. However, both songs share the all-over-the-place nature of “Sleeping Ute.” Here too, though, Grizzly Bear successfully walks the fine line between “a lot” and “too much,” between “quirky” and “weird.” These are not songs that you would expect to hear at a coffee shop or even on your local radio station. Grizzly Bear is clearly not eager for commercial success. For better or worse, the band eschews politeness for the sake of its music.

In other spots, Shields is quiet and toned down. “What’s Wrong,” in a departure from the album’s previous songs, veers into the territory of the soft, quiet and minimal. So does “The Hunt,” which appears nearly halfway through the album and marks the winding down point. By the time Shields reaches “Half Gate” — the album’s penultimate track — Grizzly Bear flips the switch back to “crazy” and leaps into the anthemic seven-minute closer “Sun in Your Eyes.”

Shields is certainly not as polished as the band’s previous efforts, nor is it as avant-garde. It is, however, a very strong album in its own right, and — even for those fans with high post-Veckatimest expectations — it will not be a disappointment.

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