Grizzly Bear came back after five years of break. While their previous LP, Shields, was a marvel full of imaginative and sophisticated compositions, Painted Ruins were expected to deliver pretty much the same. But let’s be clear. It did not. Promotional singles were a prelude to what became a compilation of well executed, but watered-down, overwhelming compilation of songs that provides occasional splendor, but generally lack coherency.
There is no running away from comparing Painted Ruins to its predecessors, and when you do so, the results are not that great. It seems to me that musicians wanted to continue their evolution, but ended up overdoing it and forgetting about the broader idea of what a form of album requires. There is a magnificent power in these songs, but you have to look deep to find it and understand it. And when you find it, it is overshadowed by the urge to complicate that usually brings authors (and listeners) to a musical dead end.
Some of these songs stands out as great ideas that create a magnificent Bearish climate such as Wasted Acres, Four Cypresses, Aquarian, or Neighbors – album’s best song. However, generally, as talented as Grizzly Bear may be, I wanted more of this album. And maybe I will get it, who knows. Their music is not an easy listen, but a growing one. After first few listens I can say their latest is definitely not my favorite. Still, I think it will evolve over time, and maybe all of its hidden beauties, only some of which are visible now, will flourish.
Listen to: Wasted Acres, Four Cypresses, Aquarian, Neighbors