Lo-fi music has long had a stereotype of intentionally sounding low budget, and though that term may be a bit exaggerated, some people often wonder how music of a lo-fi variety can have a lasting impact to an aware listener. Bands such as Grizzly Bear prove that you don’t need to use the latest technology or scream to let your emotions out musically. Grizzly Bear first formed when Ed Droste and Christopher Bear met in New York. They found similar music interests and recruited Daniel Rossen and Chris Taylor to join their musical project as well, later to be named Grizzly Bear. Their debut album, Horn of Plenty, used several instruments, though a piano and acoustic guitar led the way through a murky path of dark but very enjoyable melodies. Their second album, Yellow House, releases this September and it is one of the more unique and enjoyable albums that I have heard this year.
You could label Grizzly Bear as a psychedelic folk band, though that wouldn’t suit their sound entirely as their use of multi-instrumental is quite great. Droste’s vocals sound like an even more somber version of Elliott Smith, with shades of Brian Wilson quietly making their way in as well. The thing entirely unique about the new album though is the music. ‘Knife’ is drenched with emotion and is as upbeat (or close to the Beach Boys) that Grizzly Bear will dare to travel. Their influence, as with most bands of the genre, is extremely visible thoughout. The song is simply stunning and is an immediate stand-out. ‘Marla’ reminds me of a slower tempoed Tom Waits song, especially when the various orchestral instruments pop out. “I’ve looked everywhere,” Droste sings effectively and desperately as a slight piano combines with the orchestral elements to create a genuinely rich sound. ‘Easier’ opens the album up with a short classical piano arrangement, similar to what Sufjan Stevens has done so well, as a simple guitar arpeggio classifies the bridge before Droste opens up the chorus with a loving, “Because I still care for you…”. Yellow House is one of the more enjoyable albums of the year so far, and I would recommend it to all.