Grizzly Bear is in the early running for album of the year thanks to the slavish adulation being foisted upon the Brooklyn-based indie foursome by snarky bloggers, snooty reviewers, and bandwagon jumpers a-plenty. Founding member Ed Droste has shown a nose for the experimental, often mixing in layered vocals and acid-kissed folk nuances, which has led to Grizzly Bear being fiercely embraced by those afflicted with hipness anxiety.
For sure, Droste and his crew excel at turning traditional song structure on its head. Aside from enlisting the aid of classical composer Nico Muhly, Grizzly Bear employs loads of odd time changes, muddled rhythms, and swirling atmospherics, often veering into quite a bit of creative navel-gazing. "Hold Still" is minor-chord, free-floating piffle draped around lines like A staged race has no thunder/This is the case of our blunder. Then there's "I Live With You," a shambling piece of strum and emoting that throws in the Brooklyn Youth Choir and Acme String Quartet for embellishment and reeks of plodding self-indulgence. Veckatimest does have its share of redeeming moments. "Ready, Able" has a tempo and temperament that recalls a cross between a deep Yes cut minus Chris Squire's muscular bass lines and the kaleidoscopic whimsy of Mercury Rev. Likewise the swaying "Cheerleader," in which Droste fuses the sounds of the Brooklyn Youth Choir with a lilting vocal that reflects a case of Brian Wilson idolatry. And while the traditional song structures of "Two Weeks" make it a baroque pop gem, it also a direction that would have made this album measure up to the overbearing huzzahs already being lavished on it. (Warp)