It Holds Up: Grizzly Bear — ‘Veckatimest’

Posted: by The Editor

Grizzly Bear’s iconic guitar-driven music and ambitious songwriting helped lay the groundwork for what indie rock would become in the future. Their 3rd LP, Veckatimest, remains the groups’s most iconic and complex album, one that exemplifies how the band’s songwriting style laid down a standard for indie rock albums to come. 

The Brooklyn-based band released two albums previous to Veckatimest, all of which had a signature deep guitar sound and buttery vocals. Looking back on their discography, all of their arrangements feel carefully placed and are perfectly in sync with each other like they’ve been choreographed to the tee. Tracks such as “Knife” off of Yellow House effortlessly blaze through, bolstered by straightforward lyrics with subtle shifts and changes in how each instrument gets introduced, allowing the track to flow seamlessly.

However, on Veckatimest, the band seemed to take more time and care into how they wrote their tracks. Opening track “Southern Point” is an explosion of sound. Opening up with bass and drums as well as a muted guitar, the track immediately feels a lot more dense than Grizzly Bear’s previous work. At around the 1:00 min mark the song mutates into this insane almost orchestral-like explosion of sounds. Complete with sharp acoustic guitars, a roaring bass, drums that operate not only as a supporting instrument, but also offer a complex arrangement of textures, it swerves into so many twists and turns that the track feels like some kind of adventurous quest. 

Veckatimest has a perfectionist quality to it, the end product sounding like the band spent a long time mulling over each and every detail. The way that each instrument has a relationship with one another truly showcases how well this band operates as a single unit. “Ready, Able” does this very well in how airy and light the track feels, it’s weightless although it contains a lot of different sounds. The sounds don’t hobble over each other competing for space in the track, instead they operate in harmony. The incorporation of electronic instruments and effects offers this otherworldly quality that not only takes “Ready, Able” to the next level, but also tracks such as “Fine for Now” and “Two Weeks.”

This album really sunk its teeth into what great songwriting is, it’s how you fill time with sound. Grizzly Bear packed this 52 minute album with a delightful amount of sounds and character, creating an amazing sonic experience throughout the whole album. Just look at the way they treat guitars on this record, with care, concentration, attention to detail and tone, carving out an almost perfect sonic representation of the instrument. With that said, Vecaktimest launched a new standard for the indie-rock genre. Previous to this record, indie-rock could be perceived as a “lo-fi” or “less-than” genre compared to some of the more produced and studio-built records that other bands were putting out at the time. However, Grizzly Bear broke free of that stereotype and made this record something to celebrate. Vecaktimest encapsulates a complete sense of craftsmanship that feels purposefully deliberated over and analyzed to the point where every note and every second has its place on that record. It’s an album that set the tone for what indie rock could and eventually would become in the future, therefore, it does hold up.

Sarah Knoll

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