ALBUM REVIEW// Grizzly Bear – Shields

One of the most anticipated albums of the year and possibly the album I have been itching for the most is finally in my possession: “Shields”

I adore Grizzly Bear, CANT and Department of Eagles it seems anything any member of this group dabbles in is masterful and ‘Shields’ is no exception…

We all knew following up “Veckatimest” would be an incredible feat. However, there is something about ‘Shields’ which has allowed them to complete this task seemingly with ease. I will now attempt to take you on that journey, the journey which is their incredible return:

The opening track [above] ‘Sleeping Ute’ is reminiscent of the past GB albums whilst adding a new ‘modern’ ambience, unique to ‘Shields’. With hints of CANT and a very ‘In Ear Park’’ kind of outbreak towards the end Sleeping Ute is the evolutionary scale of Grizzly Bear. With this modern growth to Grizzly Bear comes tracks such as “Speak In Rounds” or “Gun-Shy” which carry concepts of the “Age of Indie” and “Folk Revival Period”, in which we are trapped, to a new individual level and definition. Much like “Veckatimest”, ‘Shields’ is an album that stands out from those of other bands to which they are often compared e.g Fleet Foxes and seems to be birthed from personal inspiration.

“The Hunt” is very Radiohead-esque with it’s wailing guitar and deep piano and does [controversially] bring another band name into mind: Coldplay. When I first read a comment on YouTube under the video to “Yet Again” comparing the two I felt sick putting them in the same league as have many others:

//people who compare Grizzly with Coldplay: Coldplay is snobish one-layer pop with vague lyrics. Grizzly is multi-layered, multi-influenced and well crafted music with extremely good lyrics and nothing like coldplay. – David Pint

//are you fucking kidding me right now?? get the fuck out of here with your stupid child like comments.- Helki Dovah

However, when listing to early Coldplay I found through songs like Shiver, 42, Don’t Panic that Shields has got a hint of that beauty and feeling. Obviously to a much more mature and powerful level but a level nonetheless. ‘Shields’ is teeming with influence of music in out era, it is modern and takes elements of  influential songs, be it “Knives Out” or “Yellow” Grizzly Bear are reinventing our era by using elements of it.

Unfortunately I cannot find a link to my favourite track “Sun In Your Eyes”, the closing track, so here is the controversial Coldplay sounding “Yet Again”

Shields is an album of evolution and it could well be Grizzly Bear’s most significant album yet.

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ALBUM REVIEW// Bloc Party – Four

It’s a shame no band from the early naughties couldn’t survive. Four is definitely the worst we have heard from Bloc Party so far…

Kaiser Chiefs, Razorlight and now Bloc Party have dwindled. Who would have thought a change in drummer would change everything so drastically? I have been a life long fan of Bloc Party and one of their final gigs before Kele went off with ’The Boxer”, in the Astoria was (and to some degree still is) one of the best gigs I have ever been to. Now, I don’t believe that Bloc Party’s live performance will be anything less spectacular than it ever was however, I do believe that their gigs will be inhibited by the tracks they will undoubtedly perform off this new album:

1.) So He Begins To Lie.

This track begins with a messy drum kick followed by feedback and false starts. It is just a real let down for an album opener. How could Kele and the group drop from their electro experiments of “Intimacy” into this loud messy cluster fuck.

2.) 3×3

Kele chants “No one loves you”, which is exactly what I was thinking throughout the song. This song has sinister aspect to it, but it’s lost in the messy guitar and Kele’s wails. Just when you thought the first track was an anomaly 3×3 is that dreadful kick while your down.

3.) Octopus

At first listen I really did not like this song. I was thinking where is the ‘Flux’, ‘The Prayer’, ‘Positive Tension’? But after listening to the album for two weeks in order to see if it is a grower or not I discovered more to Octopus. It has the glitchy aspect of ‘Intimacy’ we all got used to. The chorus is fairly infectious and it is one of the few tracks that does stick with you.

4.) Real Talk

Finally this track is a breath of fresh air. It’s what it says on the tin, there is no messy guitar and wailing vocals it is clean and a break from the sharpness of the rest of the album. In fact it even has a degree of beauty. There’s a banjo in it! Who would have guessed that? This is a nice new side to Bloc Party… Until it gets to Kele’s talking at the end.

5.) Kettling

This protest song is a bit of a grower. At first listen it’s heavy and punchy and quite hard to listen to but after a few listens it is quite an interesting track especially in comparison to others. But if you are not going to have the patience to give it a few listens I doubt Kettling will be for you.

6.) Day Four

For a song which starts off sounding like a remix of David Guetta’s “Titanium” Day Four is a nice reminder of what Bloc Party used to be. Day four takes us back to the root of Bloc Party, glittered with remnants of “Silent Alarm” and proves to be my favourite track on the album.

7.) Coliseum

When I first heard it, I was in awe. Amazing! A new bluesy side to Bloc Party! But like most of the tracks on Four you are in for an unpleasant surprise. The cool and gripping bluesy beginning is completely drowned in the overwhelming heavy guitar riffs. making the entire song sound as if someone decided to give up on covering Beck and decided to attempt a Metallica song instead.

8.) V.A.L.I.S

Bloc have seriously gone pop in this one. Easy listening. Not terrible, but not what we all hoped from Bloc Party’s revival. Sadly, it’s just a little bit bland.

9.) Team A

In my opinion this is the other stand out track off the album and I hope it will be the second single. It’s fast paced but ordered much like “Helicopter”. Team A is what Kele probably wanted from Four, it has that old Bloc Party we all love with the powerful heavy guitars they seem to employ in almost every song on Four. Team A is a must buy for Bloc Party fans, it’s a shame I can’t say the same for the whole album.

10.) Truth

Another poppy track, however unlike V.A.L.I.S it’s not bland, like Day Four it has a degree of beauty to it. Truth is a track to buy even though it may be a cornier side to Bloc Party. Truth steers away from the heavy, overwhelming guitar and creates an ecstatic infatuation you will not find anywhere else on the album.

11.) The Healing

To be honest, I enjoyed The Healing. In comparison to the other tracks Bloc Party have churned out it is nothing but once again it provides a nice escape from the headache of Four’s heavy guitars. Nothing special, it’s just like a diamond among rocks.

12.) We Are Not Good People

They got that right. You’re terrible people Bloc Party, after 2 great tracks and the mellowness of The Healing you have to go and injure our eardrums again with the heavy metal mess that is your closing track. This closing to the album is effectively the final kick in the bollocks, lulling you into a false sense of security Bloc Party do not fail to remind you that their revival has been 3 steps backward.

A revival is not easy, they never are, many have fallen. It’s a shame this album is too “rough around the edges” for a revival but to me this album could have been “Silent Alarm’s” predecessor it sounds like a young group of boys playing loudly in a room…

I can see why they called it Four. Four years on from “Intimacy”, four band members, fourth album, ONLY FOUR GOOD SONGS.

Day Four, Team A, Truth, Real Talk.

The album cover is unfortunately as exciting as the album itself.

The Return Of Mumford & Sons: ‘I Will Wait’

Now, like everybody when I first heard Mumford & Sons I thought: “Wow, what originality I cannot wait for the album!” and when I heard the album I thought “Has this moved on the the next track yet?”. Yes Mumford and Sons are big around the globe but seeing them support Arcade Fire they have a long way to go to be GREAT. So it is safe to say I had low hopes for the second album. However, I always had faith that they would change like many great bands do throughout their discography e.g Radiohead, Beatles, even Arctic Monkeys throughout their 10 year career!

Mumford have not matured.

I’m not criticising the song at all, it does the M&S trick, its folky, strummed, uplifting, OH! and wouldn’t you know there is a banjo break too! It’s going to earn them money and be just as catchy and played as “Sigh No More”, like most anticipated songs and albums are, but if you have a hope for an interesting and unique album, I would turn away from “Babel” (Which is out September 24th)