I wanted to dislike Grizzly Bear. I’m already enough of a hopeless Warp fanboy as it is. But the band uploaded some free MP3s of some of the tracks from Yellow House. I downloaded ‘On a Neck, On a Spit’ and I thought it was okay; nothing special.
A few days later I had this amazing song stuck in my head and for hours I couldn’t work out what it was. It eventually dawned on me that it was ‘On a Neck, On a Spit’. I’ve loved the song ever since. It starts off quite gentle and pleasent. It sounds like the sort of music that would be used on a Honda advert. But at the same time it’s got a bit of a rebellious jazzy streak aswell. Great stuff.
The rest of the album is like this. When I first heard the album in full I found it a real bore. But I urge you to give this repeated listens, because it turns out that almost all of these songs are absolute masterpieces. It’s just that they don’t show off about it so you don’t really notice unless you listen out for it.
Perhaps my favourite track (apart from ‘On a Neck…’) is ‘Marla’. Again, it doesn’t seem like anything special at first — just a Donnie Darko-style piano waltz. But just you wait until the song gets going. All of the tracks on this album contain moments of dreamlike beauty.
I think what I really like about this album is the fact that it sounds so conventional on the surface but is actually quite experimental without being in-your-face about it. You have to appreciate a band that contains a member whose instruments are listed as: “drums, vocals, xylophone, lap steel, glockenspiel, Max/MSP”. The subtlety of Grizzly Bear’s use of electronics has to be admired.