Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
It all starts with a deep but subtle groove. ‘Wasted Acres’, the first track from Grizzly Bear’s first album in over half a decade probably won’t grab you straight away, but its trip hop/R&B/sparse jazz groove and familiar falsetto is a pleasant way to start a record.
Recent single ‘Mourning Sound’ offers much more of a jolt. Its motorik drive underpins one of the band’s greatest vocal melodies to date. It’s the most immediate song on the record, which means it feels like the best song at this stage. But once more intriguing, harder to read tracks like ‘Three Rings’ start to sink their claws in, we’ll no doubt feel differently.
There are moments of quiet ambition. The short choral section in the choppy ‘Cut-Out’, the haunting, proggy psychedelia of ‘Aquarian’ and the expansive twists and turns of ‘Four Cypresses’ all sound like something only a rejuvenated Grizzly Bear could have given us.
‘Glass Hillside’ is where it all seems to come together. The minor experiments, the heavy handle on classic pop, the complex rhythms all coalesce into a refined, slightly unpredictable, but easy to listen to five minutes.
Fans will have their opinions as to whether Painted Ruins was worth the wait. At this stage, it honestly feels hard to tell. It is certainly an interesting album, and it’s packed with both beautiful moments. We can only hope – and, honestly, expect – that this beauty will unfurl further as we spend more time with this album’s songs.