Features | Awards

The Gonorrhea Award for Year's Most Unexpected Slow Burn

By Kaylen Hann | 19 December 2012

Grizzly Bear: Shields

Unlike gonorrhea, Dom and I both waited for this thing with bated breath, checking daily and becoming just as often disappointed when still there was no sign. Then that hot son of a bitch dropped.

A backbone of tin and thunder, from the metallic shiver underscoring the vocals to the anvil-cloud accumulations on opener “Sleeping Ute,” Shields is an album flush with the articulate Grizzly Bear weather systems of percussion and guitar. Down to the thrashes of tambourine, it has all the soundscape complexity, heart-rending strains, and the hold-and-release outbreaks of noise compositions that drive at the band’s inimitable dynamic. We fucking love that unpredictable and coveted dynamic. It flames the “nethers”; it sleeps and then wakes up, roaring. Then sleeps again.

Then it spreads as broadly as their own career arc, roots down slow into the heart. With significantly less lyrical “whoas” and drawn-out harmonies than the infectious Grizzly Bear releases of yore, it’s one of two albums that really split the staffers in the CMG brain-meld this year: Shields and (maybe obviously) Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange.

As for us, we really like these lingering, blistering tracks. It’s an album that really gets to the heart-genitals. And stays.

► “Sleeping Ute”