In the annals of Brooklyn indie & hipsterdom, Grizzly Bear hold a special place. They arose right when Brooklyn indie was breaking out and the term ‘hipster’ was being born. They’re complex and daunting enough to satisfy the art-rock critics, but also beautiful and enjoyable enough for wider success. They haven’t broken up, and they haven’t gone massive. That continues with another special record, Painted Ruins.
What you’re looking for from a new Grizzly Bear record is here. Dark beauty, challenging arrangements, pop as art, art as pop – even the five-year wait makes it an event. Songs like “Mourning Sound”, “Aquarian”, and closer “Sky Took Hold” manage to feel ominous, relaxed, resigned, and more all at once. It’s like they’re taking all the words in an indie critic’s lexicon at once (in a good way).
Painted Ruins might be moderately more accessible than some of Grizzly Bear’s earlier work, with less radical changes and movements, but does not get away from what made them a hipster darling in the first place.