Music columnist finds solace in new Grizzly Bear album

Hannah Reed creates hour-long playlist "Feelin' Grizzly (Bear)" in relation to album "Painted Ruins"



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"Painted Ruins" is Grizzly Bear's fifth album. It was released Aug. 18. Photo courtesy of RCA Records Buy Photos

When I first listen to an album, I am usually a Spotify shuffling bandit. I no longer subscribe to Spotify Premium, so now I am saving five dollars a month and shuffling for free.

But today, I decided to pull out my laptop and listen to “Painted Ruins” by Grizzly Bear in order. It threw me off. I liked it.  

Maybe I liked it so much because the indie rock band has finally made its way out of a five-year drought in which it did not release any albums. Regardless, I found myself bobbing my head and tapping my feet to the album.

I will say that this album definitely feels like one you may need to listen to a few times to actually appreciate. I had to listen to it three times in order to gather my thoughts on it. 

The layering of the instruments and voices is complex. It almost feels as if you should listen to each song a dozen times to be able to fully appreciate the art that is coming through your headphones.  

The album opens with “Wasted Acres,” a song that begins with a slow buzz that works its way into the background as Ed Droste begins to sing. If you catch yourself zoning out to this song, do not be alarmed because you will find yourself coming back into the song as he sings, “Were you even listening?”  

“Mourning Sound” is the second track on the new album, and it has been a personal favorite of mine since it was released as a single in May. The beat is slow and steady, and the layered guitar creates a song you can dance to. 

This song is slightly comparable to Grizzly Bear’s famous “Two Weeks” from its 2009 album “Veckatimest,” though it has a much different sound.  

The fourth song on the album, “Three Rings,” is the third-most popular song by Grizzly Bear on Spotify, right behind “Mourning Sound” and “Two Weeks.” “Three Rings” is the type of song you can sit on your porch and watch traffic to. It is slow and relaxing, and Droste’s voice is hauntingly beautiful.  

“Cut-Out” starts with the sounds of guitar and piano. The drums come in right as Droste’s voice does when he sings, “You are an invading spore/Growing inside of me/Never ever letting go.” 

The harsh beat goes in and out during this song, and though there is no chorus, the steady changes in the volume of the song make it seem like there is.  

As I swayed along to “Glass Hillside,” I could not help but once again appreciate the layering that Grizzly Bear pulls off so well. Some of the sounds seem like they should not work where they are placed, but they do.   

The album closes out with “Sky Took Hold,” a five-and-a-half minute tune that starts slow and serene and billows into a song you would yell along to on the highway at night, driving with the windows down, one hand on the steering wheel and one hanging out the window. 

All in all, if you are looking for an album to listen to while laying in the grass, watching traffic, stuck in traffic or just to relax, this might be the one for you. 

If you do not like it the first time, try a second. Everything sounds better the second time. 

My hour-long playlist for this week, “Feelin' Grizzly (Bear)” features artists like Thundercat, Bombay Bicycle Club, King Krule and, of course, Grizzly Bear. Listen to it here: https://open.spotify.com/user/hannahreed13/playlist/39Gi0DXIu2dwZAHWgvvpVT  

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