Hype, the likes of which that have been heaped on Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear, can be an incredibly tricky minefield to navigate. On one hand you’ve got the ear of the tastemaker, the hipster elite and the blogosphere all clamoring to sing your praises before you’ve even released your first record. On the other, there are the uncontrollable expectations and the inevitable backlash when the wind blows in the next best thing. Needless to say, the expectation level going into the band’s second record Veckatimest is, in a word, epic. The question is, does it live up to the hype?
The answer is; Kind of. It’s a solid, meticulously produced record. The songs are engaging and it gets better upon subsequent listens. Veckatimest is clearly meant to be listened to as a whole and has a well definied beginning, middle and end.
The record opens with a breezy acoustic guitar shuffle accompanied by a Rhodes piano, building orchestration and the unsteady vocal warble of “Southern Point”. The ambition of the track and it’s use of dynamics hits the mark and sets the tone for the rest of the weekend. “Two Weeks” brings the choral vocal harmonies to the forefront of the Beach Boys inspired pop track. It bears repeating here that the production of this album is stunning and you’ll find that each voice is given it’s due space and the choral effect is spacious.
“Cheerleader” (mp3) evokes a slinky film-noir feel with reverb drenched guitars and provides a dark turn to the mid point of the album. The steady mid-tempo waltz of “Ready, Able” soars and is one of the true standout tracks. “I Live With You” starts quite simply and is beautifully orchestrated with the greatest of intentions and falls apart to delusions of grandeur that come off more contrite than convincing. Veckatimest closes with the stark and stunningly beautiful “Foreground”, providing a perfect coda to the record.
Whether you buy into the hype or not, this record at very least deserves a listen without any expectations.