Grizzly Bear are set to play their first Dublin show since 2009 when they enchanted a sold out Vicar Street. In September 2012 they released their fourth album, Shields, on Warp Records, to widespread acclaim yet again.
“Richly introspective and grandly scaled…” – The New York Times
“Rocks in a viscerally thrilling manner.” – The Guardian
“brilliant, complex and surprising.” - MOJO
“Sublime, with strings attached.” – The Telegraph
The quartet of Chris Bear, Ed Droste, Daniel Rossen and Chris Taylor have never made a quick follow-up; it took them three years to get from Horn of Plenty to Yellow House, three more to get from Yellow House to Veckatimest. Between those records, though, they’d not only toured but issued singles and splits, EPs and remixes. After long spans of shows for Veckatimest, however, Grizzly Bear went silent, or, to be more exact, its members lived their own lives. Trips were taken, and friendships were restored; families were visited, and solo projects were finished. The potential energy gathered in tour vans and busses, in studios and on stages for years was finally released, giving the individual band’s pieces the chance to recover and, after a year, return to being Grizzly Bear.
The quartet first reconvened summer 2011 in Marfa, Texas, with the loose plan of rehearsing and demoing new material and seeing where potential songs for the next album stood. Almost nothing stuck, but that was fine. In Texas, they were reconnecting as friends and musicians, and the material would surely come. Against the inclination of the digital world, they took their time.
When they reconvened in January, again at the immortalized Yellow House in Cape Cod, they were anxious to return to Grizzly Bear. Indeed, Shields depends upon the urgency of a band whose members have opted back in. For the first time, they wrote more songs than they needed and scrupulously edited the ideas. For the first time, Rossen and Droste wrote songs together, taking each other’s ideas and extending them and executing them with a new vitality. And for the first time, they tended to move forward only with the songs that were most open to true quartet collaboration. Asked which tunes on Shields belong to which songwriter, every member balks and explains that, for the first time, these are actually full-band numbers. Both in process and product, this is Grizzly Bear as they’ve never been.
“Sun in Your Eyes,” the seven-minute close to Shields, stemmed from a piano melody Droste wrote and discarded but that Rossen picked up as a pet project and spent weeks building, changing and rebuilding. The result is one of the most brilliant and audacious pieces of Grizzly Bear’s oeuvre, dependent upon the same mix of drive and drift that shapes the bulk of Shields. Though soft at the edges, “Yet Again” pushes toward the status of rock anthem, with a bridge that refracts dance beats through a musical kaleidoscope; the slow creep of “What’s Wrong” commands an answer, its antiphonal vocals and anxious strings giving voice to a frown and a sigh. Those open emotions are an integral part of Shields, the most cohesively written album of Grizzly Bear’s career. The words come matched by a sound that is more passionate than proper, a quality earned by spending less time on the perfect take than on the proper feeling.
“This has a different energy behind it,” concludes Droste. “Veckatimest was a little more of a polite album; the desire to keep the vocals smooth might have kept a little distance between us and the audience. This one feels a bit more rough and exposed, so that on Shields, everything speaks for itself.”
Tickets on sale Friday February 22nd 9.00am priced €33.50 (including booking fee) from www.ticketmaster.ie & Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. +353818719300 - Republic of Ireland customers.