Bearing through a new sound
Written by Gabi Mrozowski
Resurfacing back into the alternative music charts since their last studio album "Shields", Grizzly Bear’s newest album, “Painted Ruins,” portrays a newfound maturity that the band acquired over the span of 5 years. The transition in style quantifies the endured growth, and begins a new era in their timeline as artists.
Grizzly Bear moving from melancholy underground indie to indie rock reveals the personal growth of the musicians constituting the band. What most clearly demonstrates this newfound maturity is the decision to leave behind their dependency on heavy synths in their previous album, “Shields,” and move toward a stronger percussion presence. With a foundation in psychedelic synths, the band continues to use loops. However, the background is noticeably different. Instead of evoking a feeling of angsty contentment, listeners are left with a finality that follows a senior album. These differences combined push forth a new agenda for Grizzly Bear.
Wasted Acres spectacularly opens the album by putting forth one of the band’s best songs on this record. Viscous in sound and ominous in lyrics, one can’t help but press play on the next song. The following song, Mourning Sound, also does not disappoint, but rather excites in terms of introducing the new sound of the band. It is through this single the transition is most apparent.
A noteworthy contrast in regards to Grizzly Bear’s previous albums is their transition into a completely new unique style. Certain songs housed in this record contain lent sounds in reference to pop-culture. Such as, the opening to Losing all Sense containing a reminiscent style to The Beatles, to Wasted Acres borrowing synth-spiration from the Netflix show “Stranger Things”, and lastly the beginning of Neighbors alluding to movie-opening soundtracks from the 1950’s. In addition, the unadulterated sound associated so closely to Grizzly Bear’s older instrumentals discreetly pops up in certain tracks. Though the ear easily recognizes these brief references to Grizzly Bear’s older sound, it quickly fades away for listeners to fully immerse themselves with their new sound.
As an aftermath to their youthful approach and a possible prologue to a mature technique, Grizzly Bear leaves it to the audience to digest “Painted Ruins.” With a plethora of new elements infused into the music, the band opens a different door for listeners to enter. Whether the experience is enjoyable or not, all depends on how accepting one is when it comes to straying away from Grizzly Bear’s original sound to embracing the new.