New Soundbites: Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

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Possibly the most unreviewable album of all time.

Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest
Warp
Waiting for the smoke to clear seemed appropriate. Or at the very least preferable.
It was hard enough taking a somewhat objective stance back in January when Animal Collective’s MPP dropped. But this blows even that hype inferno out of the water.
Almost a month after its physical release (people have been downloading it since 1975) it’s still hard to nail Veckatimest; sure it’s a monolithic wedding cake of layered precision – but is it a tasty eat or simply unmanagable?
It’s a sign of where we is at when talk and pre-verdicts are cast before the record’s even in the can.
But hasn’t it always been like this? Perhaps Radiohead are one of few bands in recent years that have been forced to subscribe to this method of judgement; where tracks are damned/eulogised before they’re even in the gestation process, let alone edging towards the studio door.

Radiohead‘s Jigsaw Falling Into Place, All I Need, Videotape, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi given an early airing in June 2007.
Yorke‘s clan have certainly subscribed to the expectation and hype – posting clips, previewing at will and road-teasing on webcams as well as on tour – but then again, this is surely to counter the impatient, unquenchable thirst of today’s listeners.
It’s hardly surprising Grizzly Bear have opened for The Head in recent years, they’ve cribbed more than a few ideas – see that cover, with all it’s angular, graphic obliqueness and match that to the quivering whimsy, cerebral WTFs of Ed Droste‘s almost-there vocal and the consistently meandering instrumentation and you’ve Kid B-team gone Stateside.
But then that could be over-simplifying matters as Grizzly Bear place far more emphasis on the folk to Radiohead’s rock roots. Even at their most electro/experimental (say Idiotecque), Radiohead still employed the riff, whereas Grizzly Bear are just as likely to drift off into nothingness.
Perhaps, this is why Veckatimest seems so hard to love, for while there are a good handful of spot on tunes – Two Weeks (all honking doo-wop), and the hat-trick of centre pieces Fine For Now, Cheerleader and Dory are each close to mesmerising – there seems a distinct lack of gut-punching power.
Everything seems so cerebral, so exact, so mulled-over, that the talk, expectation and anticipation has not just over indulged the critics but the band too.
5.5/10
For fans of: Pitchfork, Cokemachineglow, Paste

Grizzly Bear: Two Weeks (live)

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