88.) Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest (2009)
Veckatimest is a great record.
No question about it. In fact, it's a really great record. It's basically a technical masterpiece. A lot has been made about how labored over Veckatimest feels - a fact that has been restated over and over as both criticism and appreciation over the ole' review circuit.
I happen to feel like it's a bit overstated personally and when used as criticism it's a bit unfair. Yes, Veckatimest lacks that sort of loose feel that it's spiritual brother Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion achieved - but so does Pet Sounds.
Anyway enough of that technical shit.
Veckatimest came out at an interesting time for Grizzly Bear. The internet had declared them an "it" band after their second album Yellow House was released to a ton of fanfare and they had a lot to prove here. The most impressive thing is not that this, their third, record is head and shoulders better than Yellow House it's the fact that Grizzly Bear basically sideswiped any real backlash - though there's still time hipsters so get ready!
They managed to avoid said backlash the old fashioned way - by making a wonderful record that while certainly benefitting from continuous listens also comes out of the gate swinging and basically buries itself in your head from the first note. In fact at this point it's hard to even imagine a world wherein "Two Weeks" doesn't exist - it has become that indelible.
The interesting thing about Veckatimest is that I'm pretty sure I could play it for my dad and even he'd like it. What's not to like? Gorgeous harmonies abound over meticulous arrangements and amazingly it's a fucking pop record.
The thing that astounded me personally about Veckatimest is that "Two Weeks" aside Grizzly Bear saved the best songs for last. The final three songs ("While You Wait For Others", "I Live With You" and "Foreground") are the stars of the show. And in an age when no one listens all the way to the end of a record anymore and if they do hear the songs it's probably out of sequence on some mp3 blog somewhere. If this is the case for you and you haven't heard these three songs side by side, do yourself a favor and do just that. It's a purely sublime twelve minutes - maybe the best in pop music all year.
Posted by Pat Driscoll