Grizzly Bear – Shields (Warp Records)
CD / LP / DL
Available now

The latest offering from Grizzly Bear further cements their reputation as pioneers of indie with some perfect baroque pop. 

Grizzly Bear’s latest release, Shields, offers yet another incredible crop of songs from the Brooklyn-based musicians.

The ten track disc runs just under 50 minutes – which is fairly conservative for the band – but every second can grab a listener’s full attention. Compared to Grizzly Bear’s unforgettable 2009 release, Veckatimest, Shields downplays the band’s signature vocal layering.

Almost creating a protagonist out of lead vocal tracks, the shift makes the material feel highly personal. Shields is largely introspective, insular and thoughtful – and it’s an immensely enjoyable album.

Shields starts off strong. The first track, “Sleeping Ute,” is visceral and fantastic in its telling of a complicated relationship. The songs press on, offering additional muscle in the multidimensional song “Speak in Rounds” and the atmospheric instrumental track “Adelma.”

“Yet Again” offers an upbeat tempo before the next track, “The Hunt,” brings it down again. A few tracks later is “gun-shy,” a smooth track that explores the same theme shown in “Sleeping Ute.”

But it is the final song, “Sun In Your Eyes,” that ties everything together. Clocking in at over seven minutes, it’s quite long. However, it’s a perfect summation of the incredible nine songs that proceed it, reflected in an epic song structure that features ups-and-downs and various shades of expression.

Certain songs on Shields could be considered chamber pop, electronic, acoustic or indie rock. As a whole, the disc is a combination of all of the above.

The band’s evident self-awareness, mixed with a sense of careful precision, is echoed in each of the incredibly well-crafted tracks.

These elements give Shields a buoyant soundscape that carries each song to the next with a special kind of fluidity. It has a pace that never meanders from its core sound. That being said, it never feels tiresome, either. It is blissful, dreamy and warm. It’s baroque pop at its finest.

Within an already indelible catalog of material, Shields further cements Grizzly Bear as a pioneering indie-pop band of today.

All words by Maren McGlashan. You can read more from Maren here.

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