I'll get it out of the way before I begin: I'm so very much a fan of Grizzly Bear. It is a bias like this that threatens to make this post a crappy echo of better opinions thrown around the internet. Especially in the wake of a new album. As much as I can remove myself from that, I will still be fascinated by these musicians, but I have been chewing on the album for a while now, and I think it is time to take a crack at it.
From what I can tell, and as far as Veckatimest is concerned, these songs are not exciting.
they are intricate, sincere, and expertly constructed. Save the prancing keys of two weeks, this album is really quite docile. It begins so covertly with Southern Point, which chugs along to the gang supporting Rossen's mysterious and raspy wanderings. Rossen is supplement to the more expansive songs on the album, where Droste leads the melancholy pop songs that has everyone trying to sing along, even if they can't match his choirboy aptitude. Speaking of choirboys, the album comes complete with its own section of clandestine chimers, which acts as testiment to how much time Grizzly Bear is willing to take for their songs.
Structurally this album feels much like Yellow House, in which the lower half of the album drags. And just like their debut, Veckatimest has no loss of intricacy in any part. Surprisingly catchy About Face will most likely go unnoticed by most, and it will definitely take a while for the needle to wear down Ready, Able. This is all besides the fact that they have succeeded to make a brilliantly sculpted pop album, which will get more playthroughs than Yellow House ever managed. So yes, you don't have to excersice your skip button between Cheerleader and While You Wait For The Others, there's something to listen to.
I've heard reference of 'chamber pop' when people mention obvious winners like Cheerleader, but I don't know why. Is it because these songs sound like they were recorded in the drawing room of a Neo-Classical manor? Or is it because the instruments used, being so old and so clunky yet able to produce such rich sound, could only be contained in an adequate chamber of sorts? The only need I see for placing the label of 'chamber pop' on this album is to distinguish it from from the music of our grandparents, who would love this album just as much, if we ever let them get their hands on it.
Of course, there are other songs that will most likely be forgotten, like the detuned Hold Still, which seems to be a small reminder that even in the midst of such an agreeable arrangement of sound, Grizzly Bear will not be done with their experimental side. What I don't understand is why we can't see that they have obviously done that experimentation inside the cabin of what might be considered as, above all else, pop music. Maybe that is what they mean about chamber pop.
Whenever I consider the overall standing of the album, it seems to sit in the head space between Yellow House and the meaty diversion that was Department of Eagles. For Veckatimest, Grizzly Bear has explored the region in every way we could be satisfied with. And they have built up a reputation of producing expertly well written songs. Music that shows evidence of skill. With Veckatimest, these musical laureates exhibit that they can make good music. Really good music.