Upon pushing play for my first listen to Grizzly Bear’s highly anticipated and extremely hyped Veckatimest I half expected cotton candy to flow from my speakers onto and covering my living room floor. To my dismay, that didn’t happen. I walked away from our first meeting in a WTF type daze with a head full questions. I didn’t quite understand the colossal hype, I didn’t know how the album would fit into their catalogue, I didn’t get how a fantastically upbeat song like “Two Weeks” worked as a lead single and more importantly I didn’t know if I would need to ever listen to it again. I had never mulled over an album this much after a mere handshake and frankly I wasn’t quite sure what to think of that either.
But that all changed when Barcelona’s star forward Lionel Messi placed the final dagger into Manchester United at this years Champions League final. That’s the exact time that I stepped out of a crowded Milwaukee pub and stepped into an empty record store to purchase said album on shiny black wax. And from that point on, Veckatimest’s sharp melodies, dark harmonies, quiet bombast, and utter beauty unraveled and opened up like a peacock showing its colorful feathers.
“Two Weeks” and “Cheerleader” are poppy multilayered head bobbers to put on repeat and play dashboard piano or kneecap drums to. They’re not really sing-a-long songs only because Edward Droste’s vocals are too pretty to muff. The same goes for the rest of the delicately quiet album that I imagine would be best listened to in an empty house with vaulted ceilings and windows open wide. But not to worry, if your castle is being cleaned, it sounds just as good in sedans or sloppy apartments.
As a whole the album proves to be extremely labor intensive on both the part of the creator and what it asks of the listener. There’s no way to definitively label it, making my first few listens confusing and hair pulling. But this became my favorite aspect of it. It is sophisticated and intricately layered, while still managing to be simple. It asks you to construct each sonic structure from the hushed ground beneath it. Sometimes you build it up just to tear it down, like in my current favorite “All We Ask”. And sometimes you sit atop and marvel at what was just built, like in the lead off “Southern Point”. And this is why the album as a whole succeeds. It doesn’t matter that “Two Weeks” is not a perfect representation of the rest of the album. Like Voltron, all 12 tracks exist as separate entities that in the end meld together to create the dynamic force that becomesVeckatimest.