Monday, January 01, 2007

#7- Grizzly Bear- Yellow House

The problem many, myself included, have with most modern Top 40 pop music is the inherent inorganic quality of it all. Even when a pop star finds a shtick that isn’t rife with cliché (some would tell you Justin Timberlake this year), all the sound is compressed and digitized past the point of recognition. Turn on the radio – most of it doesn’t even sound like it came from a living, breathing human being.

Grizzly Bear’s epic Yellow House is the antithesis to this. Forget coming from a living and breathing being - this thing lives and breathes all on its own. Organic doesn’t really describe it - there is a sense that these guys played the part of Mickey Mouse stealing the magician’s wand in Fantasia. They created something bigger than themselves, and are constantly trying to guide it and control it, with varied amounts of success. Hyper-organic, maybe?

It’s a beautiful mess of Animal Collective’s spooky, atmospheric folk and Brian Wilson harmonies, and the next natural progression of that ever lovable "freak-folk" genre. Layers of chanting vocals, electronic blips and an assortment of orchestral instruments weave in and out of hypnotic guitar and banjo lines. The effect is absolutely haunting in "Marla," as layers of lazy piano arpeggios bring the song to gentle but sweeping crescendos, only to disappear.

It's not like this sort of album hasn't been attempted before - this is essentially a "prettier" version of Animal Collective's Feels, or a more focused version of Akron/Family's self-titled debut. But Grizzly Bear sounds so god damned natural while those bands can sound forced at times. This is a beauty of an album that bears repeated listens with headphones, and one of the more impressive albums of the year.

Grizzly Bear- Knife
from Yellow House


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