GRIZZLY BEAR: Yellow House (Warp Records)
Warp Records 2006
10 Tracks. 49mins49secs
GRIZZLY BEAR: Yellow House (Warp Records, out 4/09/2006)
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The urban Brooklyn continues to spill oddball folksters onto the world, one of the latest additions being the magnificent Grizzly Bear. Originally the solo project of singer songwriter Edward Droste, the project has since grown to a full band with the addition of multi-instrumentists Christopher Bear and Chris Taylor and singer Daniel Rossen.
Droste began shaping up Grizzly Bear at home, recording songs inspired by a then-recent break-up in his Brooklyn apartment. Christopher Bear came in late to add some more textures before the songs were collected into an album, Horn Of Plenty, originally released in 2004. Harking back to a bygone era when melodies and how they were interpreted were the most important things on a record, the fourteen songs hinted at delicate psychedelic folk structures and melancholy-drenched melodies.
Having landed themselves a place amongst the Warp roster, Grizzly Bear, now in full formation, deliver a wonderful second opus, Yellow House. The shimmering multi-layered harmonies and psychedelic arrangements displayed here evoke the Beach Boys or the Incredible String Band with, at times, hints of early Pink Floyd, amongst other things. Delicate acoustic guitars and pianos, sporadic drums and wind instruments brush against discreet electronics and found sounds to form incredibly refined and dense structures. This tentatively places Grizzly Bear somewhere between the luxuriance of Animal Collective and the gentle restraint of Vetiver, yet the band’s nonchalant lo-fi approach and appetite for smouldering harmonies give their unruly pop songs a unique twist.
Yellow House opens with a cloud of wind instruments and a lonely piano leading to the airy guitar-led melody of Easier. With this brilliantly detailed piece, Grizzly Bear set the tone for the rest of the album. Lullabye, which follows, has a sharper appearance as electric guitars and voice layers progressively build up to an impressive coda to the tune of “Chin up! Cheer Up!”. Marla is said to have originally been written by Droste’s great aunt in the 1930s. Now rescued from obscurity and revitalised the Grizzly Bear way, this piano-led sombre piece takes Yellow House into a slightly mournful mood, but things lift up again with the deceptively simple melody and harmonies of On A Neck, On A Spit, which, despite a bout of seventies-infused twiddle in the middle, proves truly joyful and exhilarating. The album concludes with the epic and colourful Colorado, a piece that shows Grizzly Bear in all their glorious sweeping melodic might and brings this faultless collection of heartfelt glistening pop songs to the most fitting end.