Grizzly Bear - Painted Ruins

by Jason Atkinson Rating:7 Release Date:2017-08-25

Here, now, is “Grizzly Bear” and their new release “Painted Ruins.” We haven’t heard from the formerly Brooklyn based group now predominantly Silverlake based group in a few years. Meanwhile, most of plodded on, cursing the bread and what-have-you, probably feeling more and more indifferent to their sonic musings with each passing year.

Now, 2017. The late summer of our increased indifference. Grizzly Bear band has asked for the world’s attention. The world where Trumps and Melanias roam the earth, where Harvey winds crash into Texans, where a Boris hatches a Brexit, where nuclear bombs are trained on a tiny nation run by a pre-adolescent. In light of all this, it’s hard to care about “Grizzly Bear” and their latest release. Part of this is because “Painted Ruins” sounds similar—no great reinventions here—its mood is down, terribly down—a black hole of depression down and, perhaps, an indicator of the hole in which we all find ourselves.

And then the music industry—always sinking. “Grizzly Bear,” in an interview, asked for people to give their album five listens before they form an opinion. They have talked honestly, a few years back, about how they don’t make a lot of money as musicians. About how U2, back in the day, had it so fucking great. They have said that they worked hard on their album for two whole entire years and, really, you should buy it—it costs as much as an appetizer of fried calamari, they said.

Well, cry me a river.

Wishing that musicians could make money. Wishing that tall people like Ed Droste could just, referencing the NY Mag article about how they don’t make any o' dat cashmoney, ride in business class all the time! Wishing that all the poor musician friends in my life would STOP printing five hundred copies of their CD up for “physical distribution.”

The album has great production, I’ll say that. And if you like it dark and depressing, not too catchy, low energy; if you have time for five listens, then this may or may not be for you. Ed Droste, lead singer and recent divorcee, is in incredible voice—wow. Opening track “Wasted Acres” is a tour de force with lots of symphonic instruments and—well you know…tour de force-like kind of stuff. “Mourning Sound” is very nice, driving and mellow, but lacks energy—it almost sounds like a half-hearted Coldplay, if that’s possible. “Four Cypresses” works hard to be unconventional with beautiful guitar work. It, too, is very low energy. Spin magazine didn’t call them the “Steely Dan of the Xanax generation” for nothing.

Sometimes I look around at the world and think—how many of these people are medicated?

Then again, there is always hope. 

“Neighbors,” is a first-rate song with strong imagery in the lyrics and even, dare I say, that little bit of magic we all listen for when we throw on another artist and give a spin. It takes me back to earlier times. Times of fresher albums and stronger tracks. When songs like “Two Weeks,” and Grizzly Bear band's world, and our world, was a little bit different.

“So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.”

-from “Richard Cory” Edward Arlington Robinson

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